A while back I was invited to do an author talk at a Manchester based writing group and, although the thought of it made me break out in a cold sweat, I agreed. This sort of thing is well out of my comfort zone and I think the last time I did any public speaking was over 25 years ago. However, I realise that, these days in particular, authors need to become more visible and interact with their readers so it was something I was determined to do.
I decided the best way to start would be with friends and family so I asked my children for some tips as they’re both university students who are used to doing this sort of thing. I was pleased to find that they were really helpful and understood my qualms.
Signing some books
Next I decided to get in some practice on family and friends then extend it to larger groups of friends of friends. It was great to get their feedback and I found that each time I gave a talk I was feeling increasingly more confident. As I tend to over breathe when I’m nervous, one of my friends recommended meditation to practice steadying my breathing, and I have found it a great help.
My friends and family have been such a tremendous support as usual in helping me to overcome my fear of public speaking. I would like to thank each and every one of them as I benefited greatly from their input. What also surprised me was that I wasn’t just relieved after my first practice session but I also felt a tremendous buzz knowing that I was well on the way to conquering my fear. Having said that, I conducted the practice sessions from my own home (bribing friends with snacks and alcohol) so I still needed to conduct the talk in a strange environment.
My talk sparked some discussion amongst the audience.
After several practice sessions I went along to the writing group that had requested the talk. It was daunting walking into a room full of strange faces knowing that I would soon be standing in front of them for the next hour giving my talk then answering questions. However, I tried to keep calm by telling myself that I had already conducted the talk several times before so it was essentially the same talk but to a few more people. Plus, whenever I start getting nervous and out of breath I pause, take a deep breath and continue. It was also good being able to take along my brother and his partner who helped with some of the practicalities as well as giving me moral support.
I’m thrilled to say that it went well. It took till about halfway through the talk before my nerves settled but I’ve watched a video recording and am pleased to say that the nerves don’t show. The video recordings extend to over an hour altogether with roughly half an hour for the talk and another half an hour for questions as well as a short reading afterwards. Unfortunately I’m a bit lacking in the technical department so I’ve not figured out how to upload a video recording of the event on WordPress. Therefore I’m afraid I’ve only got pictures to share. However I managed to upload a short clip to my Facebook page if you want to check that out at: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherBurnsideAuthor.
Signing for a new Heather Burnside reader
I think that so often in life we are held back by our own negative thinking as we convince ourselves that we can’t do the things that feel scary or alien to us. But I’ve just proved to myself that I can do this so I’m determined to continue giving talks in the future. I am really pleased to have already received some positive feedback from the writing group and I have already been invited to speak some more.
Today is launch day for The Mark, book one in my new series, The Working Girls. I’m very excited because this is the first book in a brand new series which will run to four or maybe even five books. If you haven’t already pre-ordered a copy of The Mark, here are all the links:
During a recent training session with my publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, I learnt just how important reviews are to the success of a book. I’m really grateful to everybody who takes the trouble to leave a review on Amazon or any of the other platforms. Not only does it help to contribute to the success of a title but it’s also a great way of letting authors know what you thought of the book. So, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, please leave a review for The Mark. Big thanks!
My publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, have organised a blog tour over two weeks, starting today, with each date featuring a particular blog where you can read reviews or articles relating to The Mark. Here is a list of the blogs and the dates on which The Mark will be featured:
As I’m coming to the end of writing my eighth book I’m reminded again of the author task that I find the most difficult of all – the dreaded timeline. It seems that no matter how many books I write, I still haven’t mastered an easy way to deal with the timeline issue.
So, what does it involve?
Each time I write a book I draw up a timeline relating to each chapter and scene in the book. It’s important to have a timeline so that you can ensure that everything fits in sequentially. This can avoid situations where, for example, someone gives birth to a full term baby when they have only been pregnant for five months. There are many other howlers that can occur because of the lack of a timeline but I won’t list them all here.
Why is it so difficult?
My problem is that I always produce my timeline at the end of writing a book. This is because I don’t want anything to spoil the continuity while I am writing. I therefore have to do a search of all mentions to weeks, days, months, seasons etc. Other things to watch out for are the clothes that someone is wearing, whether it’s sunny etc. as this can be indicative of the season. I then add the timeline to my list of chapters from the book, indicating if a particular scene came before or after another and, if so, what the time span was between each.
I know this is a long-winded way of doing things and it also means I often have to switch things around to make sure I’m not contradicting myself. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make too many changes in this latest book but I have had previous books where I’ve had to make a lot of changes to make sure everything fits in sequentially.
What’s the solution?
The answer I think is to keep a note of the timeline from the outset so that I can make any necessary changes as I go along. I keep a document, which I call a ‘Sequence of Events’ for each novel anyway. It’s basically just a list of chapters and scenes, which gives a brief description of what happens in each so that I can easily recap each time I return to my work and take a quick overview of how the plot is progressing. I also review my previous days’ work every time I return to my desk. I therefore think it wouldn’t be too much trouble to add an extra column for the date/time in my Sequence of Events and fill it in each time I review my work.
If anybody has any other ideas of how to approach the timeline issue I would love to hear them. Please feel free to post your comments below.
I have spent this weekend both celebrating the paperback launch of Born Bad and touring the bookshops to find it on the shelves. It was such a buzz to see it stocked in Waterstones so I couldn’t resist sharing a few pics.
Both pictures were taken at Waterstones in the Arndale Centre, Manchester, but I also visited the Deansgate, Manchester and Stockport branches who haven’t received their copies yet. Neither have WHS Travel at Piccadilly station, Manchester or The Works so I’ll probably be doing a return trip at some point.
My daughter also joined in the fun by having her photo taken with a copy of Born Bad.
I’d like to wish my publishers Aria Fiction at Head of Zeus a huge thanks for working so hard to get my books stocked in bookshops.
I’m thrilled to announce that Born Bad is going into print from tomorrow 4th April and will be stocked by Waterstones, The Works, W H Smith Travel and other independent book shops. Whether the book shops choose to stock my other books in future will depend very much on how Born Bad sells so please spread the word and encourage people to buy a copy.
As part of the launch of the paperback version my publishers, Aria, have organised a wonderful blog tour with lots of lovely bloggers involved. I’ve included details below so you can check them out.
I’ve already received my author copies of the paperback version and they look great. I can’t wait to see them on the shelves of book shops.
It’s turning out to be a very exciting time for me. Not only were my books featured as part of the fabulously successful Aria gang lit week last week but I’ve also just signed a contract with literary agent, Jo Bell of Bell Lomax Moreton. For me it fulfils a 20 year quest to find an agent and publisher.
I met Jo at the Aria author party a few weeks ago and mentioned to her that I was looking for an agent. Jo was lovely to talk to and came over as enthusiastic and professional. We agreed to chat further and the upshot is that I have signed up with Bell Lomax Moreton.
I see it as the next stage in my author journey and I’m hoping Jo can further my writing career. It’s encouraging that Jo has a strong background in publishing on the sales side of things and that the agency has some very successful authors on the books.
It’s also a joy to have finally found an agent. I first started approaching agencies around twenty years ago when I wrote the first three chapters and synopsis of the book that was later to become Slur. Sadly, I didn’t succeed and I eventually published the book independently until I was spotted by a publisher.
Last year, with six published novels to my name and a contract with a reputable publisher, I decided to have another try at finding an agent but after several attempts I again gave up. The whole process is time consuming and it’s disheartening when you don’t even get a reply so I decided to focus on my writing instead.
I foolishly thought that as a published author it would be easier to attract an agent but how wrong I was. The reason, I believe, is that agents are so inundated with manuscripts that they simply get consigned to the ‘slush’ pile. I think there’s a lot to be said for the personal approach where you get to meet agents face to face and both decide whether you want to work together.
I’m very enthusiastic about working with Jo as I’ve heard a lot of good things about her. It’s a comforting feeling knowing that I’ve got someone on board who can provide strong representation, support and advice. Here’s to the future:
If you’ve been checking out the announcements from my publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, this week you will have noticed that they have revealed the covers for the first three books in my Working Girls series. Just in case you missed them, I’m thrilled to be able to reveal them here on my blog. I’m really pleased with them and also love the taglines that my publishers have added. All three books are now available for pre-order. Here are full details including links and I have added the tag lines for each book.
The Mark – ‘When everyone is on the make, it’s hard to tell who’s fooling who…’