Tag Archives: publishing

Writing is a lonely life…?

Denise UWC launchI completely disagree with the above (though I realise some writers might feel differently).

Writing when one is alone is not the same as being lonely. I’m so happy when writing completely on my own, but a close second is writing in the company of one or a few other writers. It’s a sedentary life sitting on your bottom day after day, but most writers interact with others. Where you write you’ll probably tap into Twitter and Facebook on most days, thus making connections and conversations.

My new diary is already filling up with writerly things which take me outside my writing cabin and into a world of real people instead of my ‘real characters’. Heading the list is the launch of Juliet’s Story, Book 1 of The Voyagers trilogy. It’s to be held at the University Women’s Club in Mayfair on 23 January 2016 (under a week to go!) and hopefully there will be writers, friends and relatives to celebrate with me. (If anyone would like to come, please get in touch with me by Friday by leaving  a comment below.)

In May I’m off to Portugal with three writing friends to stay in a private villa. We’ll have a week there working hard on our novels and catching up in the afternoons for readings and brain-stormings and critiques. Hopefully this won’t clash with the Romantic Novelists’ Association summer party!

In July it’s the RNA Conference which is always brilliant, and I come away exhausted but inspired, and often excited because an agent or editor has asked me to send them a full manuscript of my latest novel.

Then there’s the Historical Novel Society Conference in September in Oxford, which unusually is for writers and readers (Early Bird booking until 31 January!). A few days later I’m joining a small group of writer friends in Gladstone’s library in Chester for four days.

In November we don our sequins for the RNA winter party.

Denise_Alison RNA2015_sm

Denise and Alison

Throughout the year I go to a club in London where writers and media folk meet up every month; I formed The Diamonds writing group a couple of years ago where we take it in turns to meet in one another’s houses and stay the whole day – the host feeding and watering us; I have a regular Skype with my critique writing partner,
Alison Morton, who lives with her husband in France; I attend the London Book Fair…and so it goes.

So I can’t regard writing as a lonely life. But when I read through the above I think I’ll be glad to escape sometimes to my writing cabin for a top-up of loneliness!

 

Julietcover

 

Juliet’s Story will be published on 25 January 2016.
Pre-order now Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo

Books ARE judged by their covers

Annie's Story coverIt’s the first thing you’re attracted to as a reader, especially if the author is unknown to you.
You should be able to tell at a glance what the genre is. Take historical fiction, which is what I love writing. Clues are in the font chosen, the style of dress and make-up; if there’s a woman on the cover, her age. If her features and hair look right for the period or if she’s too ‘fluffy’ or simply too young to be your heroine.

If she’s travelling on a ship, a train or a plane, and you want them on the cover (hopefully, not all at once) it’s important that they, too, convey the correct period of the story. When you look at a cover that attracts you, you should subconsciously absorb the atmosphere of the story and setting of the book, which might lead you to open up your purse.

With the first cover of my debut novel, Annie’s Story, Book 1 of The Voyagers Trilogy, beginning in 1913, the designer amazingly picked out a perfect ‘Annie’ for me. She is young and beautiful, but with downcast eyes, giving the impression she’s a little apprehensive of the long journey to Melbourne before her. And so she should be, the trouble she gets into! The ship I asked the designer to use was a photograph of the Orsova, the very one my own grandparents sailed on when they went to Australia in the same year. So all I had to do was ask him to tweak here and there, but basically I was thrilled at the first proof.

Book 2, Juliet’s Story, set in the present day, was a real problem. Juliet sails to Australia to follow in her grandparents’ footsteps, only she has a secret reason why she really wants to go. To be more adventurous she sails on a freighter. The brief to the same designer was for an attractive middle-aged woman who looked as though she could be a businesswoman, with long dark wavy hair, in holiday clothes.

The designer sent through a profile of a woman in her forties with the long dark wavy hair. And there it ended. Oh, this one was strong-looking, all right. Rather too severe. Her nose was too big and her chin was too square and she was bare of make-up. Yet I didn’t dislike her. On the contrary, I felt she could be my Juliet with some work. I so badly wanted to love the cover the way I did with Annie. The publishers and I went backwards and forwards several times but it was never quite right. And the container ship the designer used was one that apparently passengers wouldn’t be allowed to travel on.

I had a search on ‘Dreamtime’ and ‘Shutterstock’ at the dozens of pages of middle-aged women on holiday, until my eyes went funny. I found the same woman the designer had used, but with four different positions and expressions. I picked a three-quarter angle where she’s giving the hint of a Mona Lisa smile, and asked that make-up and nail polish should be added – oh, and a pearl earring. Then I picked another container ship that was nicer to look at, and voila…job done.

Heart in my mouth I ‘unveiled’ the final proof of the cover. Bingo! Juliet looked stunning. And the container ship looked quite romantic against the sunset colours the designer had chosen for the sea and sky.

Now, he’s got to pick a third young woman for Kitty’s Story. She’s only seventeen when it opens in 1941. Plus I need a military aeroplane and a troopship in the background, as Kitty is on her way to Cairo.

That shouldn’t be too difficult for the designer…should it?

Acknowledgements of all those wonderful people…

clapping_handsOne of my real pleasures after I’ve finished reading a book – fiction or non-fiction – is to work through the ‘Acknowledgements’, usually found at the back. Because I’m a writer I’m always interested in the name of their editor and the publishing company. It amuses me the way authors adopt flowery prose when they sing their editor’s praises. I immediately wish that particular editor (usually a woman) was my own editor as she always sounds fabulous, going way beyond the call of duty; working with and believing in her author even when the author herself is ready to abandon the project.

Besides the editor, the author will thank her amazing friends and family with the purple-est of purple prose who all tolerate her woes and worries when she faces writer’s block, or is tied to her computer, trying to meet an impossible deadline, and once again is forced to decline an invitation or is two hours late cooking supper. Everyone always seems to rally round and support her.

Sometimes they even say their book could not have even been written without the support, love and understanding of their husbands. I mean, really. That always sounds a bit pathetic to me. Have you ever read of an author saying how she wrote her novel under the most trying circumstances with a husband who had not the slightest interest in her writing and constantly reminded her she was wilfully neglecting him and the family, not to mention the friends who moaned they never saw her?

I won’t tell you where I stand. You’ll just have to read the ‘Acknowledgements’ page which you’ll find at the back of Annie’s Story and make up your own mind. But I’ll let you into a secret…I probably couldn’t have written the story I did without the help of all those wonderful, fabulous, loving, giving, caring people…

Annie’s Story by Fenella Forster will be published 20 April 2015
Available for pre-order on Amazon (ebook and paperback) 

Christmas chats and cheers

Terri, Tessa, DB_sepiaTerri, one of the girls from our small (but select!) writing group invited the other member, Tessa, and me to her Christmas party. Terri lives in an Edwardian mansion in Royal Tunbridge Wells which she and her husband have practically had gutted, to get both the exterior and the interior looking as handsome as the day it was built. Actually, more so, with its mod cons and Terri’s decorating flair.

Terri came to the door looking ravishing in a shiny black-sequined dress with plunging decolletage, showing off her curves to perfection. ‘You’re last,’ she said, as she took my coat and stood while I changed into party shoes. ‘We’re waiting for you so we can eat.’

I looked at my watch. Getting on for eight-thirty. ‘I thought it would just be a drink and nibbles and wouldn’t matter when I arrived.’

‘No, no, it’s a sit-down, so we can have proper conversation.’ She looked at me quite sternly. ‘You haven’t eaten, have you?’

Thank goodness, I hadn’t. Unless you count half a small avocado and a bit of cheese and cracker. She led me into the kitchen where catering-sized casseroles were bubbling away with something which smelt really good and spicy. ‘Vegetable curry,’ Terri answered my unspoken question. I licked my lips in anticipation.

With a glass of Harrods’ champagne in my hand I wandered through the house, as ex-estate agents can’t help doing. Everywhere was decorated just like you see in the ‘country living’ magazines: candles flickered over a Merry Christmas banner as you stepped into the cavernous reception hall; swags of greenery floated across the mantelpieces of several fireplaces and followed the curved banister to the first floor, and a ceiling-sweeping tree stood in the library, dressed in golden birds and white baubles, and a thousand glittering lights. The two candlelit dining tables beckoned me to grab my tray, choose my food, and sit down and relax amongst convivial guests.

Inevitably, Tessa and I sat next to each other and talked about our writing. She’s a published romantic novelist and professional editor, so she always has updated news of what’s going on in the publishing world. Soon some of the other women at the table were drawn into the conversation. Then one of the husbands, an Aussie, had quite an in-depth discussion with us about the difference between men’s and women’s reading matter, and the reasons why. Apparently, men like to cut to the chase in a perfectly logical and linear way (natch!), and women emote over relationships and go off at tangents, thereby affecting their choice of books. Strangely enough, he didn’t come across as chauvinistic, but was telling it as he saw it and was keen to hear whether we agreed. I was surprised he was so interested in the subject, but we later learned his father was a published poet, and he’d even written a few himself. He certainly came out with some ideas and opinions which are sure to find their way into the personalities of my future male characters, especially the alpha heroes!

It was good to know the other non-writing guests were interested in the process and impressed with all the work involved, both during and after the book is finished. They weren’t aware that the writing is one of the easiest bits of the process. The hard work, I explained, is when you think you’re finished. That’s when it’s just about to start.

‘May I top your glass up with more bubbly?’ Terri’s husband asked me, and did so without waiting for a reply. Now that’s what I call a real alpha hero!