A Little Announcement

Ahem.

I am delighted to announce that I have a book deal for ‘Echo Hall’.

What’s more it is with the brilliant crowdfunding publisher ‘Unbound.’ Even better I was signed by the incomparable Scott Pack, who is really my dream editor.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be part of this amazing publishing company.  I first heard of ‘Unbound’ in 2013, through Shaun Usher’s ‘Letters of Note’ twitterfeed.  I loved reading the letters on twitter so I was really pleased to hear  they were going to be published thanks to Unbound subscribers.  ‘Letters of Note’ went on my Christmas list and I thought no more about Unbound, until after my copy had arrived a few months later.

I was visiting my friends Hugh and Zoe one day, when Hugh rushed in hugely excited to have his hands on the copy of their friend’s Unbound book. That friend was Paul Kingsnorth, and the book, ‘The Wake’ has done extremely well. (Deservedly so, it’s a remarkable novel). At that point, I sat up and paid attention. Two great books in a few months suggested Unbound was on to something.

I was really drawn to the idea of working with readers to create a novel together. However, having done a fair bit of fundraising, I was also slightly nervous about the work that crowdfunding entails. So I continued with my agent submissions, but all the time with half an eye on the Unbound website.

In December 2014, Unbound advertised for women writers to pitch, and it seemed a great opportunity to do so. I dived in, as did many others. There were only three spots available, and though I was disappointed not to be picked, it was also a bit of a relief. Thank goodness! My life was busy enough, I was training for the London Marathon and had a big fundraising target to reach. It wasn’t the best of times to also be crowdfunding my book.

But Unbound still intrigued me. I kept watching the website, following the progress of interesting looking books such as ‘Pure’ by Rosie Bretecher and ‘Notes from the Sofa’ by Raymond Briggs as they moved from pledges to publication.  Then, last Autumn, I spotted Scott Pack had been hired as associate editor. Scott is a rare entity, a twitter correspondent who I met in the real world first.  A few years ago my twin sister, Julia Williams was a guest at the ‘FireStation Bookswap’. Punters swapped books and ate cake while Scott interviewed Julia and the literary critic Robert McCrum. It was a really fun evening, and afterwards I started talking to him on twitter.

Scott is one of those people who make twitter worthwhile. He is funny, interesting and probably the best read person in England. He has phenomenally good taste in books, and an amazing track record in publishing – Head Buyer for Waterstone’s,  Commercial Director of The Friday Project, initiator of Authonomy, and most recently at Aardvark Publishing.

So when he invited people to pitch directly to him just before Christmas,  I was  quick to respond. I was thrilled when he responded positively and then absolutely over the moon when offered me a contract.  As I said to my husband, Chris, it’s like being picked by Berry Gordy of Motown. Accepting was a total no brainer. And I am equally thrilled to be an Unbounder, and have the chance to work with readers to make this book happen.

Now all I have to do to see ‘Echo Hall’ in print is raise the money. But with the help of a video filmed by lovely Mark and Jake this week, the support of Phil and the wonderful Unbound team, I absolutely know I can do it.

I hope you’ll be able to help too. My page will be up at Unbound soon, so if you are financially able and interested in seeing  ‘Echo Hall’ in print, please do pop over and pledge. If not, it would really help if you could encourage others to support it via social media and I’ll try not to be too annoying with the tweets…

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Mother/Daughter Bookswap 6

Another bookswap from last year that never got posted because of the blog mangling and then we’ll be all caught up and ready to get going again…

Sometime last Autumn, Beth’s book for me was ‘Raven’s Gate‘ by Anthony Horowitz. Mine for her was supposed to be ‘Gilead’, by Marilynne Robinson but  I’ve lent my copy out (what was I thinking?) and so I swapped it for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood instead.

Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz

What Beth said about it: Five ‘gatekeepers’ must unite to face the Old Ones – but first they have to find each other. Really, REALLY creepy (like I can’t believe it’s a kid’s book) but really awesome A+

What I said about it: I remember Beth being blown away by this series when she read it a few years back, so I was looking forward to reading it. But at first, I have to confess to being a bit underwhelmed. The beginning, with two kids breaking into a factory, feels too much like ‘Thieves Like Us’ and I wasn’t immediately inspired by the writing style. But once the hero, Matt, is taken to live with a very unpleasant foster carer, and discovers he has magical powers, the story picks up and then becomes, as Beth says, very, very creepy indeed. There is more than a touch of The Prisoner, about Matt’s situation, and at one point I despaired of him ever escaping, which means the peril feels very real. The book is well paced, the slightly overblown ending is just about credible, and the ending sets up the next one well. I’d definitely read the rest of the series.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

What I said about it:  In a post- nuclear Canada, the majority of women are barren. So the wealthy employ the “handmaids” who will bear children on their behalf. Ofred is one such handmaid, experiencing the horror of a form of prostitution against the backdrop of revolution. Stark and disturbing dystopia. A

What Beth said about it: I loved The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve been recommending it to all my friends. I really loved it. This has been my favourite one (except maybe The Colour Purple). It was very compelling and well written. So annoying at the end not to know what happened but there was a good reason for that.

A bit more successful than our fifth swap then and yet again an interesting link. This time protagonists being trapped by an oppressive, evil system.

Now we are back on track, we’re off to read our next choices. Mine for Beth is ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ whilst hers for me is ‘Skullduggery Pleasant‘. This maybe the swap where we fail to find a single link, but perhaps 18th Century ballrooms and dead skeleton detectives have more in common than we think. Back soon to give you our verdict.

 

 

 

 

Mother/Daughter Bookswap 5

After eight months absence, due to my inability to deal with the mangled blog, the Mother/Daughter Bookswap is back.

We are HOPELESSLY behind, in 2015 we managed to get halfway through our list. So we’ll just have to make sure in 2016 we do the other half. In the meantime, here’s a report on where we had reached by the end of last summer.

Bookswap five took a distinctly Victorian turn, following in our usual habit of somehow finding links between the books. My book for Beth was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, hers for me was Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.

Great Expectations

This is what I said:  You’ve seen the TV version so the story will be familiar. Young Pip growing up in Kent comes across the mysterious Miss Havisham and her proud protégée, Estella. When Pip finds he has an unknown benefactor, he believes Miss Havisham is responsible, but is she? A wonderful study of pride, anger and resentment with a flourish of the Gothic. B++

This is what Beth said: It was severely dull. I’m sure if I’d have got into it, it would interest me. I did like the BBC adaptation, but it was too dense.

So, TOTAL disaster then; and a chance for Chris (who hates Dickens) to be totally smug that one of his offspring appears to have followed suit. I will not give up the dream of enticing Beth to love one of my favourite authors and hoping it was just the wrong time. I’ll make a Dickens fan of her yet…

Clockwork Angel

This is what Beth said: The story of a young girl who discovers she has special abilities set in nineteenth century London. Featuring werewolves, vampires, warlocks, demons and several dashing young men. B+

This is what I said: This was OK. I liked Tessa, the heroine, a lot, and the opening sections where she is being imprisoned by the Dark Sisters and forced to transform into other people was very powerful. But after she is rescued by the Shadowhunters who fight demons like the Dark Sisters,  it just began to get more and more overcomplicated. There were a lot of interesting ideas but it went on a tad and suffered like much YA from having too much padding. Still it had a good denouement with an unexpected betrayal, and an intriguing ending setting up book two nicely. Could have done without the stupid love triangle, but apparently that’s all too common in YA too.

Our 6th books were Raven’s Gate by Antony Horowitz for me and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for Beth. I’ll post those tomorrow.

In case you missed it, here’s an explanation for the Mother/Daughter Bookswap and if you’d like to catch up on our previous discussions you can find them here: January  February March April

New Year, New Blog

Keen followers of my blog, if there are such people, might have noticed I have been very quiet for a while.

This is due to the fact that halfway through the year Blogger suddenly started playing up with formatting and all my posts got mangled. I’m pretty rubbish with technology so it’s put me off writing rather, and it has taken me months to work out how to deal with it.

In the end, the solution was simple – transfer the whole thing to Word Press. Which even an incompetent like me has been able to manage.

So here I am, and here we are, so welcome back!

Even before the blog-mangling, I haven’t been posting much, something that I intend to change in 2016.

I want to revisit some old favourites like Sublime Screenplay, reinvigorate Brilliant Bookshops & introduce Incredible Indies. In the meantime, I’ll be returning to the Mother/Daughter Bookswap and may even start Friday Flash again.

And…there will be some exciting news soon, which I am itching to share.

Watch this space…