Thursday 30 January 2014

Blog Tour: Rupert Wallis on the publishing process (The Dark Inside)

Today I have a fantastic post from UK debut author Rupert Wallis on the publishing process. This tour focused on the behind the scenes process of having a book published – read on!

On The Publishing Process As An Author

As a debut author the publishing process has given me a fascinating insight into how a book transforms from being a document on one’s computer to an actual book.  So I’ll attempt to highlight some of the stages that have resonated with me.

Editing was the first step.  I was pretty nervous about how much work there was going to be and what I might be expected to do to a story I had spent so much time alone with.  Luckily, there wasn’t a huge amount to change with regard to the structure or the characters.  What my editor, Jane, helped me to do was tease out some of the story elements that were lurking in the background, almost as if I was adjusting the equalizer settings on a stereo, toning up certain aspects such as: the relationships between the characters, the world of the story, and some of the darker, more magical elements.  What I have learnt from this is that a writer needs to be very clear about how they want their story to be so they can justify its content when challenged.  Having a good working relationship with an editor is key and I was very lucky to be able to work with Jane who helped me see things about my manuscript I had not noticed before.

Beyond the actual rewriting process (which in addition to an editor also includes a copy editor and a proof editor), other people in the publication chain start to orbit around the book - the cover designer, the sales team, the PR department.  There is a requirement for an author to be able to let go of their book as more and more people take ownership of what is essentially a ‘product’ that is going to be sold.  Because I have a screenwriting background I think I was probably more adjusted to this than if I had been a debut author without any sense of how much of an industry storytelling is.  Whether it’s film, theatre, books or television the key element is usually the ‘bottom line’.  In fact, from my limited experience of the publishing industry so far I have learnt that even if an editor loves a manuscript submitted to them by an agent it’s the sales team that usually has the final say on whether it’s purchased or not.* What it means when a publisher does buy something is that the whole team is on board and behind the book.  This has certainly been my experience with Simon & Schuster who have been brilliant when working on the title and the cover design, as well as the PR, allowing for the sharing of ideas, with a view to coming up with the best possible incarnation for my book.

In addition to all the work that’s done by the publisher to build the book into something special an author has to commit to promoting it too.  Not the easiest thing for me being a shy, retiring type but so far I’ve enjoyed being interviewed for various publications and meeting readers.  Hearing and reading their reactions and opinions is fascinating and makes all the hard work that’s gone into writing the book extremely worthwhile.  Of course no one likes everything and I have to begun to realise that the life of a writer will always involve a degree of rejection or criticism throughout one’s career, beginning when trying to find an agent, then a publisher (or publishers) and finally a readership, which is an ongoing task.  It means that writers have to be fairly resilient.  I think it helps to have written a book you believe in, which you can feel proud of, whatever the variety of responses.

Promotion will no doubt be a process that will continue long after the book has been published so in effect there is no cut off point where everything finishes.  Allied to this is the need to complete the next book - in my case a contractual obligation.  What I have come to realise about the publishing process is that books are important in their own right, entities to be enjoyed, but they also serve the purpose of elevating the author to becoming a brand.  It is this to which I now have to aspire if I am to make a living out of being a writer.

*I imagine many factors go into deciding why a manuscript is bought or not but I would urge any aspiring author to ignore market trends and not worry about what other people are writing, and write a manuscript that is genuine and real because readers all along the publishing pipeline will connect with that.  Hopefully, it means that your book will find the right publisher to love and cherish it (it only takes one!).  Furthermore, only by writing something that an author genuinely wants to write can that author truly generate a feeling of empowerment.

Thank you so much Rupert! And to S&S for offering me a place on the tour. you should all go and grab a copy of The Dark Inside – it’s dark and atmospheric and a fantastic debut!


Wednesday 29 January 2014

How They Met and Other Stories - David Levithan

Pages: 307
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: 2nd January 2014
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn), Are We There Yet?, Wide Awake, Naomi & Eli’s No-Kiss List (with Rachel Cohn), Love is the Higher Law, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), The Lover’s Dictionary, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (with Rachel Cohn), Invisibility (with Andrea Cremer), Every Day, Two Boys Kissing

They met on a plane
At a coffee shop
In class

It was a set-up
It was completely random
They were dancing

It was love at first sight
It took time
It was a disaster!

A collection of stories about love from the New York Times bestselling author of Every Day.

I fell in love with David Levithan’s writing last year. I think I’ll continue to do so this year, as well; How They Met and Other Stories is just utterly gorgeous.

In the author’s note at the beginning of this collection, Levithan discusses how he prefers to the term ‘stories about love’ over ‘love stories’ and I honestly don’t think this could be described more perfectly. Not a single stone is left unturned when it comes to the topic of love in these stories Levithan write for his friends every Valentine’s Day (I know, lucky people, right?). Every type of love, every beginning and end of love, every crush, every knock-back, every kiss is revelled in with these stories.

It’s not even just Levithan’s unbelievably beautiful writing, it’s the variety of forms and styles he uses, the thoughts I’d never considered thinking he plants, the questions he makes me ask, the realisations he makes me have, it’s the love I have for the characters of these stories in under twenty pages. It blows my mind. The man has incredible skill. And warmth. And knowledge of people.

There are eighteen stories in this collection and I really struggled to pick only a few to tell you about specifically; they’re all just brilliant, but I eventually managed it. How They Met and Other starts with the most traditional sort of story about love; it’s called ‘Starbucks Boy’. It’s a sweet story surrounding meeting someone in an everyday situation and spending your time daydreaming about them until one day something changes and it happens – the daydream becomes reality. Later in the book came ‘The Alumni Interview’. You know when you get to the last sentence of something which changes the form and everything and it’s just such a big surprise that you say aloud ‘oh’ on a silent, but full, train? Yeah, that. I them smiled to myself like a loon because it was brilliant and I really liked what Levithan did with it. I think I might go and re-read it in a minute you know...

‘The Alumni Interview’ isn’t the only story to play with form. One of the final stories, ‘What a Song Can Do’ is written in verse and song lyrics. I’m usually not a huge fan of stories written in verse, but this, while not my absolutely favourite, was still brilliantly done. I felt the characters properly and felt fully involved in the story. But my favourite story, I finally decided, is ‘Princes’. A gorgeous story about dancing, friendship, a crush, train rides and brothers, especially brothers. I didn’t expect the story to take that turn, but I’m so glad it did. I loved that prejudice was fought within the home and it resulted in something as equally awesome: love.

I adored every page of How They Met and Other Stories and I’m eagerly awaiting the next David Levithan book to be published over here; I believe it’s Two Boys Kissing which just makes me HAPPY. Bring it.

Huge thanks to Electric Monkey for sending me a copy for review.


Tuesday 28 January 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway: Katie McGarry CLOSED

Today I have the lovely Katie McGarry on the blog to talk a little about her top five YA romances. The woman has good taste – I love Perfect Chemistry and Something Like Normal!

1. Perfect Chemistry ­by Simone Elkeles – I absolutely fell in love with this book and read it in less than twenty-four hours. It is a must-read for fans of realistic contemporary YA romance fiction!

2. Alice in Zombieland  by Gena Showalter – I’ve read the first two books in this series. Okay, you caught me – I’ve read the first two books in this series multiple times. It involves a group of teenagers who fight zombies, and more importantly, there is a very hot guy named Cole. I adore Cole.

3. Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins – I was absolutely hooked on this book by page twenty. Sabrina does a fantastic job of highlighting the vulnerabilities of a teenager who is becoming an adult. To top it all off, there is a gorgeous wounded Marine.

4. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller – People who follow me on social media have probably heard me rave about this book and Trish Doller. This is one of the best books I’ve read, plus it is one of the best books from a boy’s point of view. All I can say is hot guy saving baby seea turtles. That is all.

5. Twilight – I can expect to get some gleeful clapping and some eye rolling on this pick. There’s a reason why it’s on the list and I’ve decided, for the first time, to share my reason why.

The fourth book of the Twilight series was about to be released when I first picked up this title. Several people had mentioned it to me, but I sort of shrugged it off. Finally, to get people to stop bothering me about it, I bought the book and read it.

And I read it.

And I read it again.

I should probably paint a picture of my backdrop. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of three very, very young children. My husband was working easily sixty hours a week, plus he was working on his Master’s degree. He was hardly home and when he was home, he was either tackling schoolwork or sleeping.

I wasn’t mad at him. This was a joint decision we had made to improve our family, but still...I missed him.

Life was like this for a couple of years and then I read Twilight. One night, I was downstairs at the kitchen table flipping through my favourite scenes when my husband sat down beside me and asked why I liked the book so much.

When I looked up, he had dark circles under his eyes. His hair was a mess and he had a few days’ rough stubble on his jaw. He should have been upstairs asleep, but instead he hunted me out.

My forehead wrinkled as I flipped through the pages, trying to find the right answer and when it hit me, I honestly swayed. It had nothing to do with the book, it had everything to do with the man sitting next to me. “You used to love me so much that I could barely breathe when you looked at me.” A lot like the way Bella felt around Edward.

He placed his hand over mine and squeezed. “I still love you like that.”

Warm tears filled my eyes and that one statement was able to help me get through the last two years of his degree.

So, yeah, Twilight is a favourite.

Thank you so much, Katie. That’s a wonderful story.

To read more of Katie’s writing, I’d strongly suggest entering my contest to win one of two sets of all three Pushing the Limits novels thanks to MiraInk! Simply fill in the rafflecopter form below and cross your fingers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

UK only, ends Monday 4th February at 6pm GMT.

Good luck!

EDIT: the winners have now been drawn and contacted. 


Monday 27 January 2014

The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson - Paige Toon

Pages: 307
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 30th January 2013
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Lucy in the Sky, Johnny be Good, Chasing Daisy, Pictures of Lily, Baby Be Mine, One Perfect Summer, The Longest Holiday

Meet Jessie, small-town girl turned wild-child...

When her mum dies, Jessie thinks any hope of finding her real dad is gone. As she goes off the rails, her stepdad makes a shocking announcement: her father is legendary rockstar and former hell-raiser, Johnny Jefferson. Now the daughter of a superstar, Jessie is suddenly sucked into the LA lifestyle – paparazzi, parties and hot guitar-wielding boys included!

But Jessie’s still reeling from her mother’s death and the truth about Johnny. Can he live up to her expectations and help her move on? One thing’s for sure, Jessie’s tiny little world just got a whole lot bigger...

My love for Paige Toon’s novels is no secret, so the announcement that she was writing a YA series spinning off from my favourite of her books made me squeal with joy. Rightly so because The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson was awesome.

I have to admit that I struggled to read it at first. Not because I worried that I wouldn’t live up to her adult novels. Not because of my fear Jessie may cause issues between Johnny and Meg. But because of the whole recently dead mum thing. It’s a subject that seems to pop up in everything that I read lately, but this was the first time I nearly couldn’t handle it. Jessie’s grief was gut-wrenching. The random memories sparked by seemingly insignificant moments that came suddenly and unexpectedly brought mine flooding back, the realisations of all of the things she would never get to say to her mum, do with her, see with her. It made me cry a few times with the sheer emotion of the moments. Don’t get me wrong, Paige Toon has always been able to make me cry, but It punched me in the heart.

Once I got past all of the emotion and the story really started to move, I was able to get stuck headfirst into it. It was so nice to be back in LA with Johnny, Meg, Barney and new addition to the family, Phoenix. Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine are two of my favourites of Paige’s and I fell in love with Meg and Johnny completely and I have to admit that as soon as Jessie met them, I was focusing a little more on Meg than Jessie at points!

Seeing Meg from an outsider’s point of view and Johnny from someone not overcome by his hotness was weird and strangely cool. And I still adored them; in fact, I think it grew in some ways. Seeing how in love they are, how great Johnny is with his boys, how much they’ve both changed since the beginning of Johnny Be Good made me all warm and squishy inside. Seeing Jessie trying to fit into that unit was excellent. She’s so much like her dad! Not just the blonde hair and piercing green eyes, but the attitude, tendency towards lashing out and pushing down issues instead of confronting them.

The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson is another stunner from Paige Toon and I can’t wait to see how Jessie and Johnny handle being father and daughter in the public eye. Bring it on!

Huge thanks to S&S for the review copy!