A thought on coping with the glamour of it all…

A thought on coping with the glamour of it all…

I am considering lobbying publishers to provide a care package for their debut authors. Said package should arrive on publication day and consist of the following :

A thumb support/wrist brace to protect the carpal tunnel from the ill effects of constantly refreshing your books Amazon page in order to obsessively check rankings. This will also protect your Twitter fingers from repetitive strain injury as you try to brow beat innocent tweeple into buying your book.

A pair of pyjamas. This is the stock uniform for most of the writers I know, consider it PPE for the word afflicted. It is almost crucial that these should become stained very quickly and show evidence of sneaky snacks and indulgent beverages that were spilled when checking Novel rank and finding that someone on Amazon.Outer Mongolia bought your book. Pyjamas are essential garb for the creative soul, they are comfy, make you feel ever so slightly bohemian, give you a laissez faire persona and allow for more easy justification of duvet days when you are ‘plotting your next book’ ( translated as: being a lazy so and so while claiming creative licence). As a uniform they also provide the added bonus of unnerving delivery drivers and post men when they call after midday (though this effect is enhanced when you haven’t brushed your hair and look like Jedward after a sleepover where there was a food fight).

At least 42 Kilos of coffee/tea which is fully caffeinated – need I justify this? Nah, thought not. It’s a given.

Supply on demand chocolate biscuits – these help with sustaining energy levels for frenzied bouts of plotting book 2, comfort eating when constantly and obsessively checking rankings yields nothing but a vague sense of defeat and keeping your dentist/diabetes nurse in a job for life. The only downside of this is the impact of crumbs on a computer keyboard – you may find that certain letters of the alphabet become reluctant and a bit crunchy when pressed. The upside of this is that it will keep your local computer repair guy amused and employed for life too.

A supply of Kalms and a box of Kleenex – This will aid in times where a ‘bad’ review is posted. A bad review for an author is any review that does not come with 5* approval and does not declare you a literary genius of epic proportions ( the epic proportions may be a result of the chocolate biscuits – I may have to re-think this). The tissues are for the weeping, gnashing of teeth and over dramatic wafting about the room bemoaning your lot and wondering why, oh why. Marge from Iowa didn’t recognise that the bit in your book where blah says blah to blah was supposed to be wit and irony. Marge thinks you should be pilloried, shot and your head impaled on a spike atop the city gates – you just wanted to show off how blackly comic you could be…The Kalms are for the realisation that you can’t please everyone and that despite the bad hair, food stained pyjamas and ten ton hissy fits there are times when even writers need to be rational human beings and get a ruddy grip!

A small laminated card showing the 24 hour emergency phone number for your AA sponsor – AA in this instance refers to the clandestine and highly covert organisation known as Authors Abominous. On induction into the organisation you are paired with a ‘buddy’ – this person must be of a like ego, write books and have developed an instinctive sense of empathy for your every meltdown, crisis of confidence and moments of “Oh God, why did I do this…I just can’t even…” They should also have read your book and think you’re awesome. I have one, I’ve read her book and I think she’s awesome, aren’t you Lynsey James? ( Author of Just The Way You Are and all round lovely person) Sorry to have blown your cover bud 😉

Finally we should get quarterly ‘write your own royalty cheques’…though on reflection this may be a bad idea as we could collectively move the entire publishing industry into liquidation within a week. Nice idea though…

Book babies – a guide to parenthood.

Book babies – a guide to parenthood.

I have often heard people refer to their book as their ‘baby’. I’ve personally never subscribed to this view as the conception, gestation and ‘birth’ of my book seemed to be a far cry from the relative pleasure of a quick tumble. The subsequent surprise that can be had from peeing on a plastic stick and discovering that new life is within you is vastly different from having a book published. But there are similarities…

There is a spark of life, an idea forms, and from one tiny sentence, a book grows. It takes months – you don’t talk about it in the beginning in case it comes to nothing, but eventually the secret is out and everyone knows. People are enthusiastic and ask you how it’s going…you get fat and happy on the potential 🙂

Then it starts moving, kicking you in the ribs, keeping you awake at night and you worry. What if something goes wrong? What if ‘having it’ hurts? Oh my god, there is only one way out of this, and it is definitely going to hurt :/ people in the know are smug, and smile at you. They have been exactly where you are now and they know what you are in for…those smiles are not indicators of collective camaraderie, they are the smiles of people who are laughing at you, not with you.

Getting the first view of your cover is akin to getting a scan. You can just about make out your book, just like you can just about make out a baby from the series of grey blobs on the print out. You are surprised, it’s not quite what you pictured and wow, what’s that weird bit sticking out there…? It isn’t quite the gender/genre you’d anticipated and it has its father’s nose, but it’s yours and you love it anyway, even though you do have to explain the strange lumpy bits to people…

Then publication/labour arrives and you think, well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Millions of people have done this, it’s easy. Then you look at your ‘baby’, out there in the great nursery that is Amazon ( and all other reputable online retailers) Its little face is just one of many in the morass of ‘babies’ that are out there. And boy, is yours UGLY compared to everyone elses! Good grief, it stands out like a sore thumb amidst all the lovely, sparkly, pink and pretty Chick-lit books. It sits there like a gargoyle amongst the suave and smooth thrillers, looking more John Prescott than John Grisham. It’s little face is the face of a book that only a mother could love, so you have a moment of fondness for the poor little thing…then you check your sales rank and the baby blues set in…

The darned thing needs feeding, you must tweet on the hour every hour! You are up all night, feeding, pacing, tweeting, posting, blogging, soothing and smoothing this demanding little creature. It has taken over your world and  must be thrust upon everyone else’s world. It’s there, screaming and yelling ‘read me, read me now!’ It won’t shut up, no matter what you do. You’ve cuddled it, loved it, changed it, burped it, rocked it and finally shut it in a room to cry itself to sleep while you sat on the stairs and swigged neat gin…

By dawn it has redeemed itself, a few other people have recognised that you do, indeed, have a cute baby – they liked it, and said so. They left a review, only a four star though, cos it ain’t that cute. But you know, sooner or later that someone is going to point out that yours is the fugliest most gross ‘book baby’ ever and should have been drowned at birth! So, you get a little protective and tweet some more. ‘Look, my book baby can do this – see?’ While all the yummy mummies snigger and point at your awkward, un-pretty progeny.

It’s big in Australia, and the Americans seem to like your baby because they are good like that and always support an underdog. You find out that someone in Outer Mongolia liked it because Novelrank told you so. It’s all good 🙂 OK, so not everyone loves your baby – it’s never going to be drunk on a train, get a dragon tattoo, fight its peers to the death or silently scream. It’s probably not going to win the egg and spoon race at infant school either but it’s yours. You made it and some people think it’s really cute and loveable. It is the pug of books, but pugs are cute –  who doesn’t love a pug, right? 😉

All joking apart, it’s a flipping good book and ugly ducklings notoriously grow into majestic swans – http://ow.ly/MsqGY

My Misery Moment Mk2

My Misery Moment Mk2

Karma seems to be up to some funny business with me lately. My last post was about what might happen if I met one of my writing heroes – this weekend it actually happened and I got my Misery Moment.

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Yep, this is me, looking like a bag lady, harassing Lee Child at CrimeFest. He of course was charming and affable. I was a gibbering wreck. I hope I didn’t scare him too much!

The reason that I say karma is playing tricks is because I had no idea this time last week that I would be hobnobbing with the Crime writing literati, I assumed that my weekend would be the usual uneventful damp squib. Being a complete numpty on Twitter, I inadvertently entered a competition and won weekend passes to this illustrious event. Woot! A totally unexpected, but very pleasant, surprise 🙂

Sooooo, off I trot envisioning all sorts of networking opportunities etc. The road to hell is paved with good intentions… I hardly spoke to a soul, except Mr Child, the barman and a nice lady in the lift.

Oh and David Headley of DHH Literary Agency. Being me, and the blond hair being no accident, I chatted away to him without the faintest clue of who he was – he was in a T Shirt selling books! I’m an author, I write crime/mysteries and I meet one of the best agents in the country and chat to him as if he is on the check-out at Tesco! ( I’m always nice to shop assistants, it’s a thankless job sometimes).

So there you go, karma is having a snigger at my expense. I don’t blame karma, I’d snigger too if I hadn’t just missed a golden opportunity by being such a nerk.

On the ridiculously remote chance that Mr Headley or Mr Child will ever read this…Hi, it’s me (remember? bemused looking blond woman who waffles rubbish?) thank you both so much for being utterly charming, my apologies for the badly done Kathy Bates impression – I’m sure the men in white coats will be increasing my meds soon. Oh, and by the way my incredible, utterly unputdownable, amazing book is published tomorrow…;)

My Misery Moment

My Misery Moment

Chatting to an online friend this week I discovered that she is real life friends with the daughter of one of my all time favourite authors. So, being the imaginative creature that I am I had a Misery moment, in that I pictured meeting that author and declaring myself her number one fan in full on Kathy Bates style.

I thought about how this meeting might go, how I would declare my manic fangirl status, and how this lovely, profoundly creative, master writer would recoil from me in abject fear…( she was described to me as a very shy lady of immense intelligence – which I don’t doubt).

It led me to thinking about what it might be like to be loved and adored by people who do so because of something that you do, rather than because they know who you are and what makes you tick. I imagine that it might be quite terrifying. If people are drawn to you because of the one aspect of yourself that you choose to put out in the world, what happens if the rest of you fails to meet their expectations?

I suppose it’s all about the ‘romance’; the assumption of tormented souls, beleaguered by creativity starving in their garrets and pouring out words that will change the world. My guess would be that reality bites. Mine does. For instance someone recently asked me about my writing process, it goes like this:

Write a bit, load the washing machine.

Write a bit more, desire coffee, realise there is no milk left, go to shop.

Write a bit, drink coffee, unload washing machine.

Write a bit, cave in to whining dog and take him for a walk.

Write a bit, wonder what to cook, realise I don’t have what I need, go back to shop…

You get the picture. No romance. I don’t suppose it is vastly different for those writers who are immensely successful – though they might be able to afford a housekeeper. My point is that we are all (writers and non writers) just people. Doing our thing and living with the fact that existence is relatively dull, with occasional redemptive moments.

So lady writer who I adore and worship, should we ever meet please don’t be afraid. I might be your number one fan but rather than come at you with a sledgehammer because you haven’t written another Jackson Brodie novel, I’m more likely to ask you who does your laundry 🙂

This week I have mostly been…

This week I have mostly been…

Faffing about on the internet. Yep, so much so that I am starting to feel that I have a virtual existence ( imagine the Matrix, with middle aged, slightly plump, cardigan wearing authors).

It started with twitter, rolled into Facebook, snuck onto Pinterest and has ended up here. The cover was the real culprit, I blame the cover – it was born last Wednesday and though it didn’t get quite the viral exposure of the royal baby it went far, and it went wide. If I had to compare my reach to a virus, it would be one of those half arsed bugs that never quite comes to anything but makes you feel a bit off; enough to make you complain but not enough to get you a legitimate day off work. Just in case you weren’t a victim of this virus, here it is just for good measure ( I’m a sharer, it’s in my nature, if I’ve got it, you must have it too)

The Lost Child

Good isn’t it?

This internet existence is a strange one, I have gained followers, likes and virtual friends which is wonderful, and quite surprising. I live in a small coastal village and unless you are fifth generation born and bred no one speaks to you. In thirteen years I have lived here the sum total of my social interaction involves waving to two of my neighbours, exchanging pleasantries in the local shop and scaring the postman  ( poor feller has seen me in my nightie with my hair on end more times than he would care to shake a stick at, hey if Cherie Blair can get away with it…) So, my launch into the virtual world has been a social revelation and a shock to my system – and it has distracted me from my other virtual world, my next book. Yep, there’s more to come and it should be pouring out of me like a creative fountain, but my characters are sulking. I think they object to being flagrantly ignored in favour of my indulgence in social media. This week I will have to schmooze them back into compliance and give them something exciting and intriguing to do. I’m inclined to give one of them a cyber stalker, or an embarrassing you tube video to grapple with. Then again, I might just throw some every day problems at them and see how they cope, if I can remember what happens in the real world 😉

This week’s giveaway for bookish types.

This week’s giveaway for bookish types.

As the release date for The Lost Child approaches (19th May. in case you didn’t hear me squee the first 1,000 times) I thought I would give away this:

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Elaine, one of the characters in The Lost Child, is rather partial to a scarf to two – she is rarely seen without one and there is quite a tale behind why ( guess you’ll have to read the book to find out).

Anyway, if you’d like a chance to win this lovely scarf, printed with an excerpt from Sherlock Holmes ( see what I did there? The scarf is a clue…) just email me through the contact page, or find me on Twitter – @TroupAnn – and start following.

Look at me! (no don’t – I’m embarrassed)

Look at me! (no don’t – I’m embarrassed)

I was born in an era when parents taught their children to be seen and not heard. Consequently having to tout myself all over the internet and social media yelling ‘look at me, buy my book’ is a profoundly unfamiliar experience.

The photograph of me on this blog, on Facebook, on Twitter is the only photograph that I have agreed to have taken in 13 years ( I am not a fan of my face, I have an over familiar and contemptuous relationship with it based on the fact that it doesn’t match the one in my imagination and always looks like it needs a quick rub over with a warm iron, like a crumpled sheet). Now everyone gets to see my face. I have to see my face every time I shove the fact that I have a published novel in someone else’s face. For someone who was bred to be seen and not heard, this is a more than uncomfortable state of affairs.

Apparently this process is called self promotion, and you need to do it if you have created something that you want to sell. Apparently it is necessary. Apparently I must establish myself as a ‘brand’. I don’t think I’m going to be very good at it, I’m a middle aged housewife who likes to write books and who, until recently, wore my obscurity in the same way that I wear my comfy old cardigan; it’s shabby and boring but also familiar and cosy.

I’m not knocking the process and love to see other people embracing the opportunity to get out there and meet the world.  I just don’t really know how to do it well, or if I am doing it right…let’s face it, when I was a kid we thought we were the bees knees if we had a private landline. The nearest thing to an internet that I was familiar with was the thing my Nan shoved on her head at night to stop her curlers falling out! I am adrift in this world of mobile communication, instant info, social networking and selfies and I am a bit worried that I’m going to make a fool of myself. I probably will, and as long as I don’t offend anyone that’s fine. I’ll live. In the world I grew up in it would be tomorrows chip paper or yesterday’s gossip. But ruddy google lives forever!