Sunday, May 19, 2013

Miranda Writes 10 - Agents, book covers and more...

All this year I will be documenting the writing, editing and publishing of my fifth novel, giving you a unique, behind-the-scenes look at my life as a writer. This week, I'm answering your questions on everything from whether to have an agent or not, my new book cover and how long it takes to write a book...

I asked for your questions and you responded with lots of great ones -so here they are! Ever wondered how many copies of a paperback book are printed in an edition? Or how many hours each writing session should be? Or how to take a basic plot outline and make it into a story structure that works? I answer all of these this week. I'm always looking for your questions for my vlogs and asking one couldn't be easier: just leave me a comment on this post, or email me at:


P.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled: 'Catching some well-earned zzzzzzzzs'

Friday, May 17, 2013

Holly Hepburn - Being Brave...

I am delighted to welcome the very lovely HOLLY HEPBURN to Coffee & Roses. Her brand new e-book novella, Cupidity, has become an instant Amazon bestseller and if you haven't read it yet you're missing out! I asked Holly to tell us about her scary decision to self-publish - a decision which has clearly paid off...

Brave. It’s a word you associate with heroic people – like firemen and soldiers and trailblazers. It’s not the kind of word you associate with writers, unless they are Salman Rushdie or E L James.

It’s certainly not a description anyone would normally level at me. I’ve never done anything remotely brave, apart from risk my stomach contents on Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park. I’m even scared of spiders.

But when it came to self-publishing my first adult book, I didn’t so much as flinch. Self-publishing has come a long way since the days of murky, sweaty-pawed vanity publishers, who charged you a small fortune for a badly printed, thin papered, unprofessional looking version of your dream. Thanks largely to the rise of e-books, self-publishing has stepped into the light and, boy, has it stolen the show from its papery co-stars. Some people even think it’s the future of publishing. I’m not sure that’s true but it did offer me a way to dip my toe into adult writing.

I’ve always wanted to write a chick-lit novel and although I’ve started writing one, I’ve never managed to finish it – other commitments have got in the way. So it stands at 35,000 words, sad and neglected, waiting for me to come back to it. My agent even sent out the first three chapters to a couple of publishers, and the response was positive, with one gigantic publisher requesting the full manuscript. And that was the problem – I didn’t have it, and lacked the time to finish the novel. So I worked on other things and forgot my chick-lit yearnings. I wrote an opening chapter for the Harry Bowling Prize for New Writing 2012, which reached the final ten. And still I didn’t feel I could finish a book, until the end of 2012, when I had an idea that wouldn’t go away. I don’t have to be a novel, it whispered, I could be a novella...

Once I’d decided to write a novella, self-publishing was a natural home for it. No publisher would be interested in a 20,000 word story from a debut novelist, after all. And I knew several other people who had self-published with great success. So, after a false start or two, I finished the novella and set about creating a cover, one that set out very plainly that this was a chick-lit story. Once it was ready, I uploaded everything to Amazon and Cupidity was born.

It’s absolutely terrifying, putting something out there that hasn’t had the benefit of an expert editor and proof-reader. Of course, you can employ professionals to do this for you and I recommend that you do. I ran out of time to do it with mine but I went over and over it so many times that I hope the mistakes are few and far between (memo to self: ask writer friends who have read it if they spotted any mistakes). The morning I was ready to publish, I felt sick. The project felt much more personal than anything I’d put out there before. What if people hated it? What if they thought it was rubbish? What if – horror of horrors – they didn’t laugh?

I hit publish anyway. That was two weeks ago and it’s been OK. Cupidity was an instant bestseller. In fact, it’s been top of the Amazon bestseller chart ever since. People seem to be reading it. More importantly, they seem to be laughing and it seems to be at the bits I meant them to find funny. I’m thinking about running a local course on how to self-publish, to help other writers to navigate the lumps and bumps of e-book formatting.

So it strikes me that although I’m not an astronaut or a tightrope walker, maybe I am a little bit brave after all.

Thanks Holly! I adored Cupidity and absolutely recommend it! You can follow Holly at her gorgeous website: and on twitter @hollyh_author.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Miranda Writes 9: The New Rose Prize 2013!

All this year I will be documenting the writing, editing and publishing of my fifth novel, giving you a unique, behind-the-scenes look at my life as a writer. This week, I'll tell you all about my writing competition for unpublished writers, The New Rose Prize 2013 and bring you exciting details of my sparkly online writing course, which is coming soon...

2013 will see the return of The New Rose Prize for unpublished writers! I'm extending the competition this year to include separate prizes for Crime, Literary, Romantic Comedy and YA short stories, plus for the first time I'm adding a First Chapter award for the most impressive first chapter of a novel (open genre). I'm so excited to be bringing this competition back after a cracking opening year in 2011, which was won by Naomi Frisby. There is a stellar line-up of judges and awesome prizes. Submissions will open on WEDNESDAY 8th MAY and close on Saturday 31st August, with the shortlist announced on 6th September and winners announced on 20th September.

My judges are: TAMSYN MURRAY for the YA Prize, MEL SHERRATT for the Crime Prize, JAMIE GUINEY for the Literary Fiction Prize and I'll be judging both the Romantic Comedy Prize and the First Chapter Award.

The announcement of the official opening for submissions, plus all the entry details for New Rose Prize 2013 will be published HERE at 1PM on WEDNESDAY 8TH MAY - so make sure you check back then!

I'll tell you more in this week's vlog below - enjoy!

p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, 'New Summer Hat'...

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