Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's P-Day! I'll Take New York heads out into the world...

START SPREADING THE NEWS...

I'll Take New York is published TODAY - and I'm over the moon to share my sixth book with you!



You can buy your sparkly paperback, ebook and audio editions from: Waterstones
Amazon
The Book Depository
Hive.co.uk
Tesco.com
Sainsbury's


It's the story of Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James and Manhattan psychiatrist Jake Steinmann, who meet at an engagement party as the only two singles and swear a Pact to avoid relationships for ever. Instead, they share their love of the City That Never Sleeps with each other, swapping their favourite places in New York as their friendship grows.

But will the magic of New York City weaken their resolve...?

If you've read my first novel, Fairytale of New York, there will be some familiar faces to welcome back: Rosie, Marnie, Ed, Celia, Stewart and Zac are all here, playing their part in Bea and Jake's tale. It's my way of writing an 'almost-sequel' - letting you know what happens to the original cast of characters without breaking anyone up (or killing anyone off!) Also, if you loved my second novel, Welcome to My World, you'll meet Harri again and find out what happened next for her! I love the idea that old friends are popping up to join the party and I hope you like discovering their new stories in I'll Take New York!



It's a very strange feeling for me this year as I'll Take New York hits the shelves. This is my last book for Avon (HarperCollins) and it feels like the end of an era. It's partly why I wanted to return to New York and revisit the Kowalski's gang from my first novel, a kind of full-circle journey that represents the last six years of my life. During that time everything in my life has changed...

I was discovered on Authonomy.com at the end of 2008 and signed a three-book deal with Avon in 2009, followed by another three-book deal in 2010. I've become a Sunday Times Bestseller five times over! My books have gone around the world, to date being bestsellers in four countries and translated into seven languages. My total sales number just below three-quarters of a million books worldwide - which is absolutely amazing! I got engaged in 2011, married Bob in 2012 and we welcomed our gorgeous daughter, Florence Wren, into the world this year. In September last year I finally achieved my dream and became a full-time published author after writing with the day job for five years. And next year, I move to embark a whole new chapter of my writing adventure with PanMacmillan...

Most importantly, more than five people in the world have read (and are reading!) my stories - something I secretly dreamed of from being very little. I never thought I would be able to say that, so having readers around the world is the biggest dream come true for me. If you've read my books, thank you. You're amazing. If you've yet to read my books, I hope you enjoy my stories.

So much has changed, so much awaits - so, as I celebrate my sixth novel heading out into the big, wide world today, I'm so utterly grateful for everything that has happened. I really hope I'll Take New York is a fitting tribute to everyone who has been involved, from my lovely Twitter and Facebook followers who had so much fun suggesting things for the book, to my fantastic agent Hannah Ferguson, who has been the biggest, brightest supporter of my work for years, to the lovelies at Avon and my editor, Katy Loftus - who is an absolute sweetheart and a dream to work with - and to everyone who picks up a sparkly paperback, nestles my book in their e-reader library or snuggles up with the audiobook.

So, Happy P-Day, I'll Take New York!

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Special Treat for Halloween...


I wanted to bring you an extra-special treat for Halloween, so I am delighted to welcome a very special guest onto this week's vlog: the incredible A. G. SMITH. I'm a massive fan of his horror-fantasy and ghost stories and I wanted to share his chilling work with you...

As a confirmed wuss (Bob will tell you I even have trouble watching Scooby Doo because the ghosts and monsters scare me), I have to say that A.G. Smith's work terrifies me, but the quality of his writing, together with the horrifically chilling mental images he conjures in your mind are too good to miss. This week, I went to hear him read the full story that the excerpt below is taken from and it was soooo scary!

Watch the vlog if you daaaaaaare and then read on below for a brilliant interview with the man himself - including his recipe for a truly terrifying tale...



Have your nerves recovered? Read my interview with the amazing A. G. SMITH...


What do you love about writing horror and fantasy stories?

I remember watching some archive interviews with horror legends like Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and it struck me that whenever they were asked about their work in horror films, all of them were very dismissive of that term, preferring to call their films fantasy movies. That has always stayed in my mind whenever I work on a new horror story. My aim is never to upset the reader. I don't think I am the kind of writer who could write extremely gory or horrible passages. I much prefer restraint and I think that suggestion is far more powerful and frightening. I am keen to ensure that the stories have a fantastical element to them, but leave you with just enough plausibility to make you think this might actually happen to you. The same is true in my Harvester of the Now trilogy. I love fantasy fiction, but I was very keen to ensure that my stories had one foot firmly placed in reality. I think that helps the reader to identify with the main characters. I also wanted to create a hero who was deeply flawed and just as capable of running off in a panic than he was of standing his ground to fight. It just felt more realistic. We all hope we'll be heroes when the time comes, but none of us know how we'll react until we are tested by something unexpected.

Which authors have inspired you?

Authors who inspired me to start writing include my childhood hero, Robin Jarvis. I grew up reading his Deptford Mice books, and I have kept reading his novels throughout my life. I'm so pleased that he is still writing and I encourage as many people as I can to read his books. His latest trilogy is the brilliant Dancing Jax. One of the best and most original fantasy novels to have emerged for years. He has such a grasp of language and he creates living nightmares that you can see climbing out of the pages as you read. Just incredible.

As a horror fan I love the work of M.R James, truly the master of the ghost story. Robert Aickman, whose 'strange stories' are so brilliantly unsettling and H.P Lovecraft who blurred the lines between science fiction and horror so intelligently. Conversely, I also love the travel writing of Mark Wallington. I think Mark is the most hilarious and original voice in non-fiction, his books are laugh-out-loud funny and I never miss a new one.

On a far more personal note, authors who inspire me not only because they are brilliant writers but also because they are so encouraging to new writers like myself include the fabulous Miranda Dickinson - a fantastic writer and a true champion of the work of others. Miranda's kindness and encouragement means the world to me and many others. Also, the wonderful Ian Thornton, whose The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms is easily the best book I've read so far in 2014. Incredible writing, which is more than worthy of numerous awards for literature. Ian is also a true gentleman who continues to selflessly help other new writers like myself.

Hats off to you all!

What are the ingredients of a really scary story?

First, take a tablespoon of scene-setting. Not too much, just brief descriptions of the main players and the location. I tend to do this by having a principal character who bookends every single one of my horror stories. He is the Librarian at Weeping Bank Library. He is never named but it is assumed that he is a gentleman approaching retirement who has spent his lifetime collecting these eerie tales. He sets the scene, and also provides a sense of comfort and humour to lull the reader in before the scares really begin. At the end he will usually return and give you a 'possible' explanation for what has happened.

Then, add a sprinkling of unease. Just the occasional word or phrase that will let your reader know that there is something happening on the periphery, but make it clear that it will soon draw closer.

Next, I bring it to the boil with the first true scare (if I'm reading the story to an audience, this will be the point where we take a half-time break.) The moment has to be truly terrifying, almost to the point where you want to close the book and look away.

Then I will just let it simmer for a few more pages, allowing time for the main characters to calm down and seek shelter or reassurance from other characters in the story before finally bringing the whole thing up to temperature again with a final terrifying sequence that has to stay with the reader long after they close the book.

Serve with a glass of port to calm the nerves!

Have you ever spooked yourself writing your stories?

I certainly have. If I'm not frightened or worried about my characters then the story just isn't working. In the case of The Hay Man (the story I’m reading in the vlog), there are two key scenes that trouble me. The first is a very brief diary entry where you realise that the 'thing' has been standing in the wardrobe of the main character (Larissa) and silently watching her sleeping at night. The second moment is the ending, which always leaves me cold and sad when I read it to an audience. I can't possibly spoil it here though...

Tell us about what you're working on now.

I have just finished editing a new ghost story, which I will premiere for my family on Christmas Eve and that will become the story I take out to read to audiences next autumn. I am editing the second volume of my Harvester of the Now trilogy and also working on a brand new novel, called Maris Reever, which crosses over between horror and fantasy and takes the reader on a dark and dangerous journey in the company of characters they are not going to feel all that comfortable with. After Christmas I shall begin work on a new Tale from Weeping Bank Library and this one will see the Librarian take more of a central role in events, something which I have never allowed to happen before.

Thanks to A. G. Smith for a brilliantly spooky story and cracking interview! You can find out more about his work at his website, and follow him @harvesterOTnow on Twitter.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Dan Holloway


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I have great pleasure in welcoming the fantastic author, poet and performer DAN HOLLOWAY into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I don't know that I ever decided to be a writer. It was one of those things that always seemed to be taken for granted. My parents bought me an old wooden school desk as my third birthday and I'd sit at it late into the night scribbling nonsense, And when I was six my mum told me one evening that a gypsy had stopped her in the street, telling her that she had a son and he would grow up to make his fortune with pen and ink. I still haven't made my fortune!

What interests you as a writer?

I am fascinated by outsiders: people who find it hard to define themselves by terms that society understands and go about life by their own rules. It's a way of exploring all the things I wish I could be if only I had the courage.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

Absolutely not. My very best writing time is as early as it gets in the morning - I've always been a lark. By the time it gets to 8 o'clock or so, I've pretty much had it for the day. That said, I do love sitting outside on a busy pavement, leaning against a wall with a coffee on a sunny day, tapping away while the world goes by.

Which authors inspire you and why?

So many - I hate when those Facebook "10 writers who've left their mark on you" memes go round - how could I keep it down to 10? So how do I answer this in a sensible length? OK - Haruki Murakami has perfected the art of using the fantastical to represent a deep truth; Thomas Harris never uses a spare word; Elfriede Jelinek gets deeper inside relationships than you could imagine; Milan Kundera makes me see the world in different ways; Katelan Foisy breaks my heart; Adelle Stripe and Banana Yoshimoto make the everyday lyrical and beautiful.

Tell me about your latest book.

No Exit, released in May, is a big departure from my recent literary novels and poetry collections. It's a novelette, part of the Singles collection from the amazing Pankhearst group who publish the darkest Fem Noir. It's going to be the start of what I hope will be a long-running series about Petrichor, a group of outsiders who inhabit the doorways and rooftops and tunnels of Oxford - not to mention the corner of cyberspace. In No Exit, two women who have never met and know nothing about each other are about to commit a murder together, and we go back in time to discover what brought them to this point.

What are the best things about being a writer?

The thought that, one day, you might make a difference, even if only to one person; that one night someone might be alone and at the end of the line and your words might be the hand held out that brings them back from the edge.

And the worst?

Never quite being able to write the things you want to. So many people say they never self-censor. By and large they are people with very vanilla imaginations. Readers still find it too hard to separate the author as person from the things they write, so there inevitably comes a time when you pull a punch, and that hits you right in the gut because you know you are letting your readers down. It's something I battle with every book. No Exit is the darkest thing I've written. It goes places a lot of people never go but there are still things left unsaid, emotions I haven't let the characters explore.

What are you working on now?

Crush is the second Petrichor book. It centres on Keph, whose middle class comfortable life is turned on its head when she finds herself on the wrong bus home, witnesses a horrific act of cruelty and flips, battering the two teenage boys responsible to death, having just seconds to make a decision that will change her life - to run.

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

I'm as much a performance poet as a prose writer - I've been taking shows to festivals and fringes for five years now, and have worked with some amazing people. I think my dream would be to put on a show with Patti Smith and Amanda Palmer.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

I've just written a book, Self-Publish With Integrity, that aims to guide writers through the labyrinth of choices that face them. The real question I try to get them to answer is a simple one – know exactly what they want from their writing, in ultra-specific terms. That's the only way to be sure you don't get sidetracked.

More specifically writing-y advice – know exactly what the writers you admire do. And then do something different.

And devote ten times longer than you think you need to learning to write dialogue.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Go to a live literary night. Perform your work there. And, of course, thank you!

Thanks to Dan for a cracking interview! You can find out more about Dan and his books at his website and follow him on Twitter @agnieszkasshoes. Also check out his fantastic novel, Songs from the Other Side of the Wall.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Jessica Thompson


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I have great pleasure in welcoming the very wonderful JESSICA THOMPSON into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...


When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I don't remember making a specific decision... I loved books as a child and wrote a lot in my spare time. My dad and I used to make up a lot of silly rhymes in the car on long journeys, and so I grew to love the magic and playfulness of language quite early on. I wrote a lot of poems and stories in my teens as a way to express all that angst! I knew when I was about 14 that I wanted to write for a career so I eventually pursued journalism while writing creatively in my spare time. My first novel, This is a Love Story, was written while I was a reporter based in London.

What interests you as a writer?

I love novels that revolve around characters that express ideas and concepts I can relate to in some way. I don't always need (or want) a big, complex plot, or even a happy ending, but anything that takes an interesting view on life's events and really touches me will always capture my attention. I'm no book snob. I read everything, from old classics to contemporary fiction. I love it all!

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I like to write in blocks of several hours. I don't like writing for half an hour, or an hour here or there because I always get wrapped up in what I'm doing and don't want to tear myself away! I'm useless in the mornings so afternoons and evenings are better for me. I like to lose myself in the writing process, so I can't have the washing up waiting to be done or anything like that, I like to be able to focus entirely on what I am doing.

Which authors inspire you and why?

Jojo Moyes because her characterization is perfect, and I've loved every book of hers I've ever read. Lionel Shriver because she wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin so powerfully that I had to stop reading it at one point because I was so freaked out! I think an author who makes you feel something so strongly has a very special talent indeed. I also adore Jeanette Winterson – Why be Happy When You Could Be Normal made me cry several times, it was stunning. I could list many more, but those are some standout examples for me.

Tell me about your latest book.


My third novel, Paper Swans, is out now. It's about a subject very close to my heart that affects so many people, and I think I had to write this book. I'm so excited for it to come out, but the usual nerves are kicking in as well!

What are the best things about being a writer?

I think it's that wonderful feeling when you have worked on your plot for a while, and then you can finally start to write it. It's such an exciting time, and when the characters start to come to life in my mind there really is no better feeling! Hearing from readers always makes my day too. I feel so privileged that these people have not only read my books, but also took the time to let me know what they thought... That's wonderful for me.

And the worst?

I think moments, or sometimes even prolonged periods of self-doubt are the worst. I always tend to feel a bit worried about whether or not I even like a book I've written while I'm editing it! This is because I am so caught up in it that I can't see the wood for the trees. Usually some time away from the script enables me to look at my work from a better perspective, and feel confident and excited again. It can be a bit of a mindset that you have to work hard to get out of, but it can be overcome.

What are you working on now?

I am about to start writing Book Four. I'm just refining the last few plot details and then I can start. I am ridiculously excited!

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

Hmm... There isn't anything specific in terms of a plot that I consider to be a 'dream plot' that I'm aching to write. I do think that it's good to see each up and coming book you are working on as the 'dream project' though. You need to be positive and confident when you start, and know you can achieve what you set out to do and I think that's a good sentiment when writing a book. If you don't feel very passionate about it, then maybe the plot isn't the right one for you to be writing at this stage.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

1) Read, read, read! In my opinion it's vital to read the work of other writers as much as you can, and try not to stick to one genre or period. Be open minded, and take inspiration from everything you can... Creativity is everywhere.

2) But be careful when you are writing your own book... I tend to read a lot when I am editing or having some time out from writing, however I find it difficult to read other people's work when I am drafting my own. It's good to make sure you are being true to your style, and keeping your head as clutter-free as possible. I know this won't be the case for everyone, but it's definitely best for me!

3) Don't panic. If you are struggling with a plot, a particular chapter or even a sentence, the worst thing to do is panic. Be kind to yourself, and give yourself the space and time you need to work out the problem and deal with it in the best way possible.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you so much for your support, and thank you for having me!

Thank you so much to Jessica for braving the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight!

Paper Swans is a fantastic novel - warm-hearted, funny and poignant, with two lead characters you can't help but fall in love with. It will leave you with a huge smile and a firm belief in the power of love. I loved the book!

You can follow Jessica on her blog, on Twitter @Jthompsonauthor and on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Neal Doran


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the very wonderful (not to mention a fab former Future Star) NEAL DORAN into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you decide you wanted to write?

I decided I wanted to write when I was a teenager.
I decided I was going to sit down and actually finish something when I was in my mid-30s.
For a while that gap between the two events did make me feel like I’d wasted DECADES not doing something I wanted to do. But more recently I’ve realised that taking that time was fine. Every half-finished project and idea that never came to anything – the attempts at short stories, stand-up, or screenplays, or whatever – was a part of the training that meant when I finally had the personal experience I needed to write about what I wanted to write about, I’d learnt what I needed to know about writing to be able to do it.
The difference between wanting to be a writer and becoming one feels to me to be a matter of timing. You might want something, but it takes a while for everything to fall into place so it can happen. Without wanting to get all Thought For The Day on you, I think that applies in most areas of life…

Are you a dedicated plotter or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-winger?

When I started secondary school we were taught in English to write stories with this really clear and clever way of turning our ideas into something that resembled an actual proper story. This was done first by coming up with a series of ‘thoughts, words and phrases’ that summed up what we wanted to write about; we were then told to order these into a structure that would support a coherent story, and then write a sentence that would describe each paragraph. We could then use that plan to write the story.

I used to write the story, then go back and make up the plan when I’d finished it so I could hand it in with my homework as demanded.

This probably tells you all you need to know about my leanings on the plans/pants spectrum.

When do you write? What does your typical writing day look like?

I get my writing done in the time before the rest of the house has to get up at 7 in the morning, so I have an hour or two most days except Sunday when I get a lie-in.

It’s a brilliant time to work because it’s quiet in the house (and on the internet) and I think being half-asleep in a strange way makes it easier to write without being overly conscious and critical of what I’m doing. Then from 7am, when I wake up my wife, Jo, with a cup of tea, and get cracking on packed lunches, the rest of the day is daydreaming about what I’m going to write the next morning.

When people I’ve known since childhood hear that I get up before 6am, six days a week, to write novels the bit that surprises them most is I’m getting out of bed before I absolutely have to.

What inspires you as a writer?

I’d say it the little things, tiny details, minor setbacks, small triumphs. I think it’s in those run-of-the-mill aspects of life that everyone shares that you find the everyday romance that goes towards making up the big things in life.

Not What They Were Expecting is your new novel. Tell us about it!


Not What They Were Expecting is the story of Rebecca and James, a couple that have just found out they’re having a baby. Their exciting news is trumped though, when their family goes into meltdown after Rebecca’s dad, Howard, gets arrested for allegedly propositioning a policeman in a gents’ public lavatory. Then James’s activist parents start a protest campaign to bring attention to Howard’s plight and, as life gets even more complicated, the pressure builds on the relationships between everyone in the family -- including the parents-to-be.

It’s about two people trying to be strong together as the world around them goes crazy.

What inspired the story? I was looking for something about a couple going through a significant moment in their lives. Having a first child seemed a pretty important one… I remember when Jo was first pregnant what an exciting time it was, full of possibility from day one, even though in a lot of ways nothing had changed yet – we still had the time to think about what it could all mean. It was the most life-changing event that’s ever happened to me, and I wanted to write about it (although my whole family likes me to stress that all the incidents in the book are entirely made up).

Another thing that inspired me, particularly when writing about the grandparents-to-be, was that moment in your life when you go from being permanently on edge about your potentially embarrassing parents, to holding up your hands and saying ‘I have no responsibility for their behaviour whatsoever’ and letting them get on with it.

How did you find writing your second novel? Was it a different experience to writing your first, Dan Taylor Is Giving Up On Women?

The main difference was the help and support I had while I was doing it.

Writing Dan Taylor is Giving Up on Women was a pretty solitary experience. I didn’t show anyone anything till I was finished, and there weren’t many people that even knew I was writing.

The second time around it felt there were people cheering me on. Obviously, Miranda was a big help with her Future Stars support – listening when I got stuck in a slump at the halfway mark and not sure how to get out of it, and being an all-round magnificent cheerleader. Other writers have been lovely too, for example Matt Dunn, Kitty French, and the other authors who share my current publisher Carina. They’ve all answered questions, given friendly advice, and made me feel welcome in Write Club.

Then on Twitter and Facebook there were people who’d read Dan Taylor and were saying nice things about it, and how they were looking forward to what I did next. That in particular really, really helped on the mornings staring at the screen asking myself, ‘who would ever want to read this?’ I hope that the readers and bloggers that make that effort for authors realise how much it is truly appreciated.

What have you learned about your writing since becoming a published author?

I think I’ve learned to have more confidence in my writing, and to give ideas a bit more time and space. On my first novel I was obsessed with making sure the jokes and funny lines were coming at an almost sit-com pace. This time around I was more confident that the situations were funny and entertaining without having to constantly prove it.

Not What They Were Expecting is simultaneously more relaxed and more ambitious. It’s like Lord Sugar in the titles for The Apprentice, standing on his yacht. Or Des Lynam juggling seven flaming torches.

Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?

I’d love to create a cast of friends and family that would become part of the readers’ friends and family. A group of people dealing with everyday life in all its glory, and trying to figure out what it means. I’d love for it to start as a little seed of a group of young people really still starting out in life, but over years and decades (it’s a dream project: I can be ambitious…) it would become a story featuring multiple generations on a stonking big tree that’s full of life hidden in all sorts of places.

What's next for you? I’m hoping to make a go of something that could, in the end, become my dream project…

Not What They Were Expecting is available from Amazon and also all other good e-retailers! I am a massive fan of Neal's books - they will make you laugh, cry and think, with brilliantly warm characters you root for and a razor-sharp wit that will leave you breathless. I thoroughly recommend you add his novels to your e-reader as soon as possible. He's fast becoming a star in romantic comedy writing!

You can follow Neal on Twitter, @nealdoran and on Facebook.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Miranda Writes 30 - Do writers need agents?


All this year, I am keeping a video diary about writing and publishing my sixth novel, I'll Take New York. This week, there's another chance to #getinvolved with Book Seven and I talk about whether writers need agents...

Thank you so much for all your fab entries for last week's #getinvolved challenge - I reveal the winner in this week's vlog! I'm loving writing Book 7, even if it is currently in snatched hours between nappy changes and feeds... I've another chance for you to appear in the book this week, which I tell you all about in the vlog.

This week' question is one I'm asked a great deal: do writers need agents? I've been on both sides of the fence - without an agent for my first two book deals and with an agent for my third - so hopefully I can shed some light on the pros and cons. The lovely lady who asked this week's question is the wonderful Joanna Cannon, who is a phenomenal writer. Click here to visit her website and read some of her work.

If you have a question you'd like me to answer, ask me! Leave a comment below this post, email me at mirandawurdy@gmail.com or tweet me @wurdsmyth.

Enjoy! xx

p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled:'The Invisible Chihuahua'

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Miranda Writes 29 - Overcoming The Fear...


All this year, I am keeping a video diary about writing and publishing my sixth novel, I'll Take New York. This week, I have another #getinvolved challenge for Book Seven and talk about facing The Fear as a writer...

I'm getting back to work after a few wonderful months of new-mum-hood and this week have been checking the page proofs for I'll Take New York - which has been lovely and scary in equal measure. It made me think about The Fear - a phenomenon known only too well to writers. How do you keep writing when the doubts creep in? When the inspiration won't come and you're staring at a blank page? In this week's vlog, I talk about how I tackle The Fear.

Talking of finding inspiration, have YOU booked your ticket for one of my WriteFoxy! Writers' Inspiration Days in November and February yet? They're going fast for both dates, so don't miss your chance to be inspired, fired up and have your love of writing rekindled by an amazing line-up of speakers. All the details are HERE...

So, here's this week's vlog - enjoy!

p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, 'Si-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ing!'

Monday, May 26, 2014

Miranda Writes 26 - Plotting vs Pants-ing and New Mum Writing...


All this year, I am keeping a video diary about writing and publishing my sixth novel, I'll Take New York. This week, I talk about plotting novels, dream film adaptations and my new life as a Writing Mum...

I'm so chuffed that many of you loved last week's cheeky extract of I'll Take New York - keep your eyes peeled for more sneak-peeks coming soon... In the meantime, I answer your questions on writing, including whether I can see my books as films, how much I plot my novels and how becoming a mum has changed my writing process. You might be surprised by my answer!

What would you like to know about writing, publishing, books or anything else? Leave me a comment below, tweet me your question on Twitter @wurdsmyth, post it on my Facebook page or email me at mirandawurdy@gmail.com.

Enjoy! xx

This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled: 'Ooh, put that away!'

Writer Spotlight - Holly Martin


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the lovely HOLLY MARTIN into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...
When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I've always written stories. Even when I was a child my first proper story was a piece of fan-fiction, my own version of The Animals of Farthing Wood, when I was about 9 years old. I asked for my own typewriter as a Christmas present one year when I was about 11. I started writing seriously about five years ago after reading gorgeous, rose-tinted stories by Jill Mansell and thinking I wanted to create something like that.

What interests you as a writer?

Being able to tell the kind of stories that I want to read with the wonderful characters that I want to read about. I can take my readers to different lands and immerse them in different experiences. Anything is possible when you open up a new story and start writing. The direction my books go will often surprise me.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I work full time at the moment, very long hours. I'm up at 4.30am most mornings and won't get back till 7pm most nights. My writing time is then crammed into the few hours before I fall asleep over my laptop or weekends. My best writing time is in the school holidays when I have a week or even 6 weeks off to write all day. Then I normally stay up till 3am writing and sleep in late.

Which authors inspire you and why?

I just want to tell gorgeous stories, with great characters. The kind of stories that leave you with a big smile on your face. So I love to read stories like that too. I'm a big fan of Miranda Dickinson, Jill Mansell, Belinda Jones, Catherine Alliott, Aven Ellis, Lisa Dickenson and Sophie Kinsella. This is chick-lit to perfection – funny, heart-warming stories with characters you just fall in love with.

Tell me about your latest book.

The Guestbook is a romance told solely through the messages in the guestbook of a holiday cottage. It's a unique way of telling a story. Annie Butterworth owns Willow Cottage and lives next door and it's mainly her story that unravels through her interactions with her guests. But the guests have their own story to tell and we get a little glimpse of their lives as they come and go, too.

What are the best things about being a writer?

The feedback you get from people who have read your book. The way it touches people in ways you could never hope to achieve. When I put out my fantasy YA book, The Sentinel, I never expected the response I got. The reviews I received were outstanding and from people I had never even met or spoken to. Their reviews and messages brought me to tears. After years of rejections from agents and publishers, the people that loved it were the most important people – the readers. It made me realise that I might have created something special. The response to The Guestbook has been the same and I still can't get over how much love and support I've received.

And the worst?

I suppose that your work is out their for public review. People will either love it or hate it. I've been fortunate enough not to get many bad reviews – the majority of my reviews are 5 or 4 stars but the 1 star reviews do hurt. You spend months, sometimes years crafting what you hope is something worthwhile and then people destroy it with a few hateful words. You develop a thick skin very quickly in this industry. The poor reviews always make me laugh now. People will either get my work or they won't and it would be a dull world if everyone loved the same books. I read a brilliant quote somewhere once that said something like, to attack a book with anger and hate is like dressing up in a full suit or armour to attack an ice cream sundae!

What are you working on now?

My next book to be published with Carina is called One Hundred Proposals and will be out in the summer. It's about two friends, Harry and Suzie, who work for a proposal company, helping couples to create the perfect proposal. Harry wants to know what Suzie's perfect proposal would be and sets about creating one hundred different proposals for her to find her perfect one. I'm also working on my book 2 in The Sentinel series, The Prophecies, which I hope will be out in June.

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

Bizarrely I have ideas for a zom-rom-com, with zombies and love and a lot of comedy, but I've never got round to putting pen to paper. Maybe one day.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

1.Read lots, read the people you love in the genre that you're writing for, see what works well for them, how they create dialogue and characters. Try to use some of those skills in your own writing.

2. Write. I know that sounds silly but if you are always thinking up ideas in your head and never write them down they will never turn into anything. Write down ideas for a scene, a conversation. It might turn into something, it might not, but writing it down, even if its just a few sentences, will help you think more about your ideas and how you can add to it. Finding time to write, even it's only five minutes a day is important, too.

3. Don't give up, you will get rejections, but just remember that is the opinion of one person and somewhere out there is a perfect match for you and your book.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I love finding new authors, someone I've not read before. I don't get a lot of reading time lately because of any limited spare time goes on writing, but when I do I love to find a little gem. One of my favourite new authors is Aven Ellis and her newest book, Waiting For Prince Harry,is just a superb, heart-warming read.

Thanks so much to Holly for a great interview! To find out more about Holly and her books, you can visit Holly's blog and follow her @hollymartin00 on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Miranda Writes 25 - an EXCLUSIVE extract from I'll Take New York


All this year, I am keeping a video diary about writing and publishing my sixth novel, I'll Take New York. This week, I have a bit of a treat for you - an exclusive extract from the book!

I've been promising to share a sneaky snippet of Bea and Jake's story with you for some time, so I thought it was about time I did it! Below is just a snippet – but watch the vlog to see much more:

…For as long as she could remember, Bea had dreamed of one day owning her own bookstore.

She had loved books all her life. Real books, not electronic ones. Books you could carry in your bag and read on the subway. Books you could pretend to read in neighbourhood coffee shops while people-watching. Books you could snuggle up with and lose yourself in. Books you could fill your apartment with – packed onto shelves, propping up tables and piled up reassuringly by the side of your bed. If she left home without a book, Bea felt naked, bereft. But then, working in a bookshop meant there were always new friends to make and take home.

  Friends who never let her down. Friends she could trust…

I also answer your questions on my favourite characters and whether I have more stories to tell about them after my books are published. Plus, find out which of my characters will be returning in I'll Take New York - here's a clue: one of them comes from another of my novels...

Let me know what you think - I'd love to know if the extract I read in the vlog whets your appetite for more! Or ask me a question for next week... Leave a comment below, tweet me @wurdsmyth or email me at mirandawurdy@gmail.com.

Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Rosie Blake


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the gorgeous ROSIE BLAKE into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...
When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

Quite late - I had spent my teenage years always wanting to work in television and it was only in between TV jobs in my early twenties that I realised I really loved writing. I had always written diaries and long rambling emails but then I started a novel, finished a novel, wrote short stories, read books about writing, started another novel and suddenly I realised it was years later and it had completely taken over. Now I don't work in TV but I do write.

What interests you as a writer?

People, people, people. For me a book is only a good book when you invest in the characters. I read widely and enjoy a huge range of books so be it a Lee Child or a Jilly Cooper I just need to care about the characters.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I still work around writing so no day is the same. At weekends and on days off I write best in the morning so now tend to do research* in the afternoons. I love to write a first draft under pressure so tend to want to race people too.

*google random stuff about Mysterious Pirate Gold/Beauty Pageant Fails/Dangerous Pets

Which authors inspire you and why?

A number of authors got me into writing: Jilly Cooper, Helen Fielding, Danny Wallace, William Sutcliffe, Enid Blyton etc, but there are now a lot of writers I know (mostly through social media and author events) that are living, breathing inspiration and their energy and enthusiasm rubs off on you (for me: Kirsty Greenwood, Mel Sherratt and Rowan Coleman, to name a few). I find the supportive nature of a lot of writers very inspiring. It doesn't feel in anyway like a closed shop.

Tell me about your latest book.

My latest book is my debut novel, How to Get a (Love) Life, which is a story about Nicola Brown – a rather controlling, uptight young woman. After a bet with a colleague she has to go on a search to find love by February 14th. A lot of hideous dates follow, a lot of men pass through and throughout it all Nicola learns a little more about herself. Fave bits: Lewis the idiot rapper, her bat-obsessed brother Mark's take on it all and, of course, the sea kayaking in November. It's a bright, funny read for those who love a good rom-com.

What are the best things about being a writer?

Making up worlds, new characters, exploring settings and writing about places you visit and love. Disappearing into a fantasy of your creation and, of course, seeing the lovely words all finished as part of a book that others will share with you. Wow.

Oh and the regular tea. And cake. And the pretending everything nice is "research for the book".

And the worst?

That dreadful stage, for me normally around 40k words, where you want to stop, throw what you are writing out of the window and say, "It is hopeless, I am hopeless, where is it going, how will it end, will anyone read it, why don't I make jewellery for a living instead?” etc, etc.

What are you working on now?

I am writing Book 2 and currently loving it (which is worrying as I am about to hit 40k...). It is about a girl who marries a boy, aged 8, in the playground at school. 20 years later her life has not panned out AT ALL as she planned and she becomes convinced it would have been fine if she had stayed married to Andrew Parker. So she decides to track him down. The trouble is he is on the other side of the world... CUE FUN and LOADS of monkeys.

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

I've actually started work on the dream project. It involves writing with one of my best friends so it promises to be so much fun. More on that another time as I don't want to put pressure on him *stares at him meaningfully over this blog post, plays 'Under Pressure'*...

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

1) Get the first draft done and don't worry about the word count. THEN take a look at the main story. Pull out the themes, develop some of your fave characters, throw in a sub-plot. Don't be tempted to edit as you go along or you'll start fretting.

2) Work somewhere lovely. I am starting to realise that a desk looking out on a garden makes all the difference. Or is there a lovely café that you live near? Find somewhere you really WANT to work.

3) Don't force it. I know I achieve little when I am begging the words to come. Go for a walk or take a bath. Have a think about your book but don't write anything down. It's amazing what will happen.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks so much for having me on Coffee and Roses - it's been fantastic! xx

Thanks so much to Rosie for braving the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight! You'll love her book - How to get a (Love) Life is a funny, fast-paced rom-com that I loved! Follow Rosie @RosieBBooks on Twitter, visit her on Facebook and check out her website.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brilliant Bookshops! Chicken and Frog, Brentwood, Essex

As a writer, I am addicted to bookshops. They are magical places – and I believe we need to celebrate and support them. In my new novel, I’ll Take New York, Bea James owns a bookshop in Brooklyn, fuelled by her lifelong love of books. So I decided to invite wonderful, real-life bookshops to tell their stories in my new Brilliant Bookshops feature!

First to step into the Brilliant Bookshops spotlight is the gorgeous CHICKEN AND FROG BOOKSHOP in Brentwood, Essex…

Tell me about your shop!

We are the only independent bookshop in Brentwood, Essex. The shop is a family-run business with Jim and Natasha Radford as the owners. Our eldest, Alice, helps out after school and on the weekends sometimes, as does Natasha's dad.

We stock children's books (up to YA), but are happy to order in other titles for anyone. Chicken and Frog has been open for almost 18 months (October 2012). As well as children's books, we are also a tuition centre, running classes every week-night after school and some holiday classes, too.

What services/events/promotions do you offer customers?

We are passionate about being a place for our community. There are weekly Rhythm & Rhyme sessions and story times, all of which are free. There's a box of Duplo and a colouring table, too.

Authors and illustrators have been very kind and offered to spend time with us for events. So far, we have been visited by: Lucy Coats, Martin Brown, Nick and Annette Butterworth, Christopher William Hill, David O'Connell, Karen McCombie, Mo O'Hara, John Dougherty, Laura Dockrill, Steve Lenton, J.D.Irwin, Michelle Robinson, Caryl Hart, Tamsyn Murray, Sara Grant... and we have events booked in with Andy Robb, Jim Smith, Dan Freedman and Eva Katzler. All of these events have been free, as we want reading to be accessible to everyone.

We work very closely with local schools and the theatre to promote reading within the community. Natasha runs CPD for teachers, as well as our tuition centre (English, Maths, 11+, ESL for adults), where we employ two qualified teachers plus Natasha to deliver lessons. The lessons are as affordable as possible (£15 per session) with four students per group.

We were awarded a community fund last year, in order to provide a free tuition programme to families who cannot afford fees. This service has continued, although the funding has not!

We were awarded Barrington Stoke's Bookseller of the Month in December – we love their books for dyslexic and reluctant readers.

Our loyalty card rewards our regulars with a 20% discount once they have spent £50 on books. A 10% discount plus free delivery is standard for all schools and individual teachers, too.
School holidays are filled with lots of events, including Lego challenges, writing workshops, cooking...guitar lessons, art club, handwriting club...we do a lot! As great as it would be to just have a quirky little bookshop, that's not viable. We can't compete with Amazon or Sainsbury's etc on price, but we do hand sell books, offering advice and time to read on the sofa.

What inspired you to open a bookshop?

This may sound cheesy, but we have wanted to own a children's bookshop since we met at 16. Jim was made redundant and couldn't find a job. He didn't get any redundancy money, but we took it as a sign to go for it. Our lovely children were very involved in the decision because it meant a big lifestyle change for them. They love it and so do we. Celebrating and promoting books is what we love.

What do you love most about your business?

That’s a tricky one! Inspiring a reluctant reader to pick up a book or listen to someone else read is wonderful. We also encourage children to write, with our annual writing competition and creative writing club.

What more can you tell us about your bookshop?

The future is looking bright. Book sales have more than doubled since we opened, we have been asked to work with local primary schools to promote literacy (utilising their pupil premium allowance), authors continue to support us and our customers are amazing. We feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the community. It's very hard work, but it's worth every moment.

Other stuff we’re proud of: we are a FairTrade business, we collect in second-hand books to redistribute to children's homes/surgeries/hospitals etc, we sponsor one of the Brents (local theatre awards), we donate books and book tokens to various charities throughout the year and we donate surplus WBD books to local schools.

Thanks so much to Natasha from Chicken and Frog Bookshop for a great interview! The shop looks incredible – if you’re near Brentwood, pop in and say hello!

Visit Chicken and Frog Bookshop at: 7 Security House, Ongar Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 9AT, tel: 01277 230068. Check out their website: www.chickenandfrog.com, follow them @chickenandfrog on Twitter and chicken and frog on Facebook. You can also find them on Hive. Don’t forget to mention you’ve seen Chicken and Frog on my blog!


Do you have a favourite bookshop you'd like to nominate for this feature? Are you a  bookseller who would like to take part? Email me at: mirandawurdy@gmail.com!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Writer Spotlight: Emma Kavanagh


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the wonderful EMMA KAVANAGH into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I think I was 5 when I wrote my first story and got a gold star for it from the headmistress of my primary school - so pretty much then! I have always wanted to be a writer, but for the longest time I struggled with having the confidence and the life experience to do so. So, I went off and became a psychologist, started my own consultancy firm, had adventures and then, at the age of 28, finally decided to settle down and see if I actually had it in me to write that book. That book wasn’t this book. That book definitely wasn’t a very good book. But it did prove that I had it in me to stick with it and to write a novel. I haven’t looked back since.

What interests you as a writer?

Everything! I think the thing I love most about writing is that there is nothing that is beyond the scope of what I do. Anything that catches my interest - a crime, a personality trait, a large-scale catastrophe - can evolve and grow into a story. I also love how writing can be used to expose us to a world in which we would never normally find ourselves, and can give us the opportunity to imagine how we would react to it, how we would cope.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I’m the mother of a toddler, so my writing life has evolved as he has grown. But typically, he toddles off to crèche or to grandparents and I start work by 8am. I then tend to work pretty solidly until he comes home at 1pm. I have always preferred to write in the mornings anyway, but since becoming a mother I have learned to grab my writing time whenever I can get it. What I have found interesting about that is that I am now far less precious about when and how I write. There is no more waiting for my muse to show up. I’m on a tight schedule. She pretty much has to turn up on demand!

Which authors inspire you and why?

There are so many wonderful authors out there. One of my all time favourites is Barbara Kingsolver. She is just such a fluid writer, and an incredible storyteller. I got to see her at the Hay Festival last year and was a little bit like a teen at a One Direction concert! I also love Kate Atkinson. I love how she has given herself permission to evolve as a writer, moving from literary to crime to the staggeringly awesome Life After Life. And J K Rowling, because…well, because she’s J K Rowling. She brought an entire generation of children to reading and managed to create a world that has taken on a life of its own. It is wonderful to see her now moving into crime fiction. I have nothing but respect for those authors who are willing to push their own boundaries and take a chance on something new. When I grow up I’d like to be one of these three women, please.

Tell me about Falling.

Falling is a psychological thriller about a plane crash and a murder. It tells the story of Cecilia (one of the few survivors of the crash), Tom (her husband and the detective responsible for investigating the murder), Freya (the daughter of the pilot who is forced to question her father’s role in the tragedy) and Jim (a father dealing with the murder of his daughter). Nothing is quite as simple as it seems, and as the story unravels we come to understand the way in which these events and the lives of these characters intertwine.

What did it feel like to see your finished book for the first time?

I cried. It was, in all honesty, quite an overwhelming thing. I had dreamt of this for so long, that to actually hold Falling in my hands and to see the incredible work that Random House had done on its design and cover was deeply emotional. I’m hoping this feeling will pass. Otherwise signings will be challenging!

What are the best things about being a writer?

I get to write. I get to sit down every day and write and call it my job. And the best bit is that I now have a job that I absolutely adore and that I would do (and have done) without getting paid a penny. It still takes my breath away that I managed to get so lucky.

And the worst?

I am someone who is very self-motivating. I’ve had to be as I’ve been self-employed for years. But that tends to mean that I am very hard on myself, and I will push myself to the limits to do the best job I can. That gets pretty tiring after a while. I am also a born worrier, and this job can be pretty brutal in that way. There will always be people who hate what I do, and I get an awful lot of time to worry about reviews and sales and whether I will be a sparkling success or a dismal failure.

What are you working on now?

I have just finished the edits on book 2. Well, I have just finished this particular round. There will, I have no doubt, be many more to come. This book is called The Casualties and it begins with a mass shooting. It then goes back in time to follow the lives of four of the casualties in the week leading up to the shooting, and looks at how their lives begin to knit together and how, inadvertently, each of these innocents will end up pushing the shooter towards their final, dreadful act.

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

Ooh, good question! I have tons of dream projects. I have already written up summaries of my next three books, and I am so excited to get started on them. I think that with each new project you learn a little more about writing and about what it is to be a writer, so I am happy with that for the moment. But as I develop in my career, I want to keep pushing myself, stretching my boundaries and always learning something new.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

1. Never give up - No, seriously. NEVER. It is a tough industry. An incredibly tough industry and it is not for the faint of heart. But if it is your passion then keep going and learn to treat each rejection as one more step towards your eventual acceptance.

2. Teach yourself how to write - None of us are born knowing how to put together a novel. It’s not something that is taught in schools. I found learning (through books and writing guides) the basics of novel building invaluable, and it helped me to move onto the next step. I never assume I know everything. I am learning constantly, which means that with each book I write I learn something new that I can then put into the next one.

3. Writing is always the answer - Like I said, this is a stressful industry, particularly if you’re a worrier like me. The only thing I have found that helps is to write. You need to keep moving forward, and for us writers that means moving onto the next novel and giving yourself something to focus on other than how stressed and anxious you are.

Many thanks to Emma for such a fab interview! Falling is published on 27th March by Century and I can't wait to read it! Click here to buy your copy!

You can follow Emma on Twitter
@EmmaLK.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Writer Spotlight: Laura Kemp


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the lovely LAURA KEMP into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I have always loved words and finding out about people - a general nosiness really! - so it's no surprise I ended up a journalist by trade. But it was only when I had taken voluntary redundancy after having a baby six years ago that I discovered I could actually write creatively. It was a real shock because I'd never thought I had a book in me. I began writing features for national newspapers and magazines as a way of keeping myself sane when my son was small and then when he was about 18 months old, I came up with the idea for my first book. I was lucky enough to get an agent, a two-book deal and my second book has just been published. I'm still a bit stunned by it all!

What interests you as a writer?

Balancing the lows of life with the highs - being able to survive the bad times through humour and love. That's what we're all up against! It comes down to being fascinated by people and how we cope with everything thrown at us. Life is material, at the end of the day!

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

My typical writing day starts after I've dropped my son at school and had my first coffee of the day so I aim to sit down and start at 9.30am. Then I'll write for an hour or so, get up, have a faff about doing something like washing or whatever, have another coffee, then get back down to it, finishing around 1ish because my focus wanders by then. Before my son started school, I'd do it when he was having a nap and at night but as his bedtime has got later, I don't bother at night anymore. I'd rather store it all up for the morning when I can concentrate better. During school holidays, it's a totally different matter - I have to write whenever I get the chance, perhaps if my son is round a friend's house, or if my husband is around to take charge, which isn't much because his job means he's away for 26 weeks of the year, sometimes for three weeks at a time. 

Which authors inspire you and why?

You, of course, Miranda - such an epic writer with so much passion and positivity! Likewise Milly Johnson. I also love Allison Pearson's writing, so spot-on and relatable, and the mother of mum-lit Fiona Gibson, who is super cool. I also love Khaled Hosseini because his storytelling is simply beautiful, he's a real expert at understanding the human condition and exploring emotions in a poignant and touching way.

Tell us about your latest book.

It's called Mums on Strike and it's about a woman who has had enough of being the family skivvy so she goes on strike with the aim of getting her husband to share the housework equally. That's the top line but it's also a love story - how we deal with changes in our lives and whether relationships can survive them. The strength of female friendship is key to the book too - those relationships are ones that are just as important to us as our marriages.

What are the best things about being a writer?

I love the escapism, the journey into your characters' lives, where you enter their world and feel as if you're in the same room. It's a complete joy to immerse yourself into another reality. Writing comes to me when I write, so I'll have the basic framework planned, but things come to me as I sit down and tap away and I love the way your brain can throw up things which you'd never have thought of if you weren't physically doing it. I also love talking to other authors, it's taken me a while to believe I'm actually one of them because I just felt I wasn't good enough but the writing community is so warm and supportive and really helps you get through those moments when you doubt yourself. I also really enjoy quiet time, the silence of working, which came as a surprise because I used to thrive in a noisy newsroom, but they are different disciplines. If I ever need a chat, I just go on Twitter, which I love, and it's like a virtual office for me.

And the worst?

I get embarrassed about promoting my books on social media because it makes me feel a bit of an idiot but it has to be done. Gone are the days when an author can expect an awareness of their work without shouting about it - having said that, there's a lot of fun to be had with it so I try to keep it light.

What are you working on now?

My third book, which will be a departure from mum-lit to chick-lit. It's a sexy comedy on the surface but beneath is all about the ups and downs of falling in love. I'm also going to do a script-writing course in the spring because I'm really drawn to giving characters a voice. 

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

I would love to write a TV series - I love tragic comedies like Early Doors and Rev, they're so fantastically funny and poignant which stay with you long after you've finished watching them. And of course more books.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

Write as though you'll wake up tomorrow being unable to write - so get it down now with passion. Don't expect a smash hit with your first book because it's all about establishing a career long term, so you might have to do another job until you get established. And be determined. Rejection is inevitable - you just have to get back up and keep going!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Just a big thank you for having me, see you on Twitter and if anyone's going to the shop, can they get me some crisps. XXX

A massive thank you to Laura for braving the Writer Spotlight! You can find more about her at her website, follow her on twitter @laurajanekemp and find out all her latest news on Facebook. Mums on Strike is published by Arrow and available on Amazon - click here to get your copy!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Miranda Writes 21: The BIG BOOK 6 TITLE REVEAL!


Drumroll please... I am SO excited to finally be able to share with you the title for Book 6 at last!

The book is actually all written and edited as I'm just over a week and a half away from welcoming Bump into the world and I can't wait for you to read it. To celebrate the title reveal, I've made a little trailer vlog that gives you some sneaky details of what Book 6 is about. Hope you enjoy it - and let me know what you think! xx

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Hannah Beckerman


On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, as she launches her debut novel, The Dead Wife's Handbook, I'm thrilled to welcome the very lovely HANNAH BECKERMAN into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I’m one of those people who’s always - since I was a child - harboured a fantasy about writing a book one day. I’ve tried many times before (I’ve countless unfinished manuscripts knocking around) but when the idea for The Dead Wife’s Handbook came into my head there was a certain insistence about it and I was just desperate to start writing it.

What interests you as a writer?

I’m fascinated by human relationships in all their forms: partners and lovers; parents and siblings; friends and enemies. I think our relationships, more than anything else, define who we are and how we feel about life: which is why I get so annoyed when people denigrate women’s fiction for being ‘merely’ about relationships - human interaction is central to all of our lives!

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I love writing in the early morning (and by early I mean around 6am!) through to a late lunch, so that would be my ideal. I tend to get a little less focussed mid-afternoon (which is short-hand for saying that the afternoons are often spent surfing the internet!) But I’m looking after my toddler full-time at the moment so I tend to write very early mornings, during her lunchtime nap and in the evenings. Having less time makes you very efficient, I’ve discovered!

What inspires you as a writer?

Reading great books inspires me. I love it when you read a phrase or a sentence that you think is so beautifully constructed you’d like it etched inside your mind. Or when something moves you to tears or laughter. The hope of provoking those kinds of responses in other readers is pretty inspiring.

What are the best things about being a writer?

I love working on my own. That may sound horrendously anti-social but it’s the truth (and I think it’s probably a pretty important trait for a writer). I like being lost in a story and in character’s lives and the feeling of there being a parallel world - that of the book I’m writing - going on in my head at the same time as real life.

And the worst?

The self-discipline and self-motivation it takes when you’re completely stuck. In most jobs, if there’s a task you don’t really relish, there’s usually a different one just around the corner to distract yourself with. When you’re writing it’s just you and the laptop and there’s no escape!

Tell me about The Dead Wife's Handbook: what inspired the story?

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the story of 36-year old Rachel, who’s died unexpectedly and is now watching the lives of her loved ones as they come to terms with her death. It was inspired by two things: firstly, that sense of unease you get when a former partner (even one you don’t want to be with any more!) gets together with someone else, and all the complicated feelings that can provoke. And the idea was also largely inspired by how I felt after I’d been made redundant, when I was beginning to reassess the things that I thought were really important in life.

What was it like to see your published novel for the first time?

Getting the ‘actual’ copy was a pretty nice feeling! I now have one on my desk at all times to remind me what it’s all about. And for the occasional stroke, obviously...

What are your top three tips for unpublished writers?

Really simply: 1) Write a lot. 2) Read a lot. 3) Make time for it, even if you’re working full-time or looking after children and feel like you have no time for anything: even a little bit of writing every day goes a long way.

Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?

I’m hoping that if I tweet enough about The Archers, one day they’ll invite me to join their script-writing team! I’ve been listening to it since I was about five and still discuss the storylines with my mum as though the characters are real people. So if they’re reading this...

Anything else you’d like to say? Just a huge, heart-felt thank you to all the book bloggers who’ve been such great support and fun friends since I got to know them. Too many to mention by name, but it’s a wonderful community that I feel honoured to be a part of. And of course, Miranda, a very big thank you to you for having me.

Thank you Hannah for such a great interview!

You can follow Hannah on Twitter
@HannahBeckerman, on Facebook HannahBeckermanAuthor and at her website
.

Hannah’s book, The Dead Wife’s Handbook, is published by Penguin and is out now. You have to read it! The story is achingly beautiful, life affirming and thoroughly unforgettable.

If you’re an author and would like to step into the Coffee & Roses Writer Spotlight, drop me an email: coffeeandroses.blogspot.com. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 is the year to... WRITE FOXY!


Well, we're at the beginning of a new year and all around me people are making resolutions. Personally, I love setting goals for the year ahead and I'm always surprised at the end of the year by how much I've achieved or how much my priorities have changed. For 2014, I have only one resolution - to WRITE FOXY!


Lots of things are about to change in my life this year. Bob and I are going to welcome a new baby into our lives in March (ten weeks and counting - eek!), I have some major decisions to make about my writing career and there are certain things I'm working on that may or may not happen during 2014. It feels like a year of possibility - and, as anyone who reads my books knows, I love the allure of possibility...

After the challenges I faced with my writing last year - and the crisis of confidence that almost made me quit - I have decided to spend this year pursuing one thing: foxiness! By this I mean I want to write stories that thrill me; that I bounce out of bed in the morning to write; that make me happy. I want to be known as a writer who adores what she is doing. A writer who takes risks. A writer who appreciates the importance of fun in everything she does. Even if I'm the only person to read it, I want my words to exude foxiness: to be sassy and brave and unafraid.

I've learned the hard way that achieving a writing dream is just the beginning: the key to continuing to live the dream is to never lose sight of why you started dreaming about it in the first place. If you don't love what you write - and constantly reconnect with that first love - you simply won't survive.

I'm excited to see where my foxy writing resolution will take me and what stories will emerge from it, during this year and beyond. There could be zombies. Or thrills. Or quirky tales that make me smile. There will definitely be new characters who want to welcome you into whole new worlds. It could be crazy and some of it might lead nowhere at all - but it will definitely be one heck of an adventure!

So, there it is: in 2014 I'm starting as I mean to go on. No matter what else happens, I'm going to WRITE FOXY!
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