Book One/Two Episode 2: COVER REVEAL!

Welcome to the second installment of Book One/Two!

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Do you need to catch up? This story started with me getting an agent and then getting a book deal. My post How Many Drafts Did You Do Of Your Book? is essentially a prologue, and you can read Episode 1: Full Steam Ahead if you click on that last pink bit.

Book One: DISTRESS SIGNALS

PUBLICATION DATE: 2 JUNE 2016 5 May 2016

Lots of exciting stuff to report on this month and I’m typing this at 6:30am after basically no sleep and I have to hurry up and get going because I’ve a lecture first thing so [gulps coffee] let’s DO THIS.

SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

Good news: Distress Signals is coming out sooner! It was scheduled for June, but as you may have noticed above, it is now set for publication on May 5th.

I will get excited about this once I get over the shock that this essentially means publication is… Oh my god: six months away. What?!

And also, figure out how to pass my end of year exams at university, which begin then. I am stockpiling the coffee starting now.

PAGE PROOFS

On Tuesday, the page proofs arrived. These are the actual inside pages of the book, exactly how they’ll look in the finished book. They get sent to me so I can check them for errors, changes that need making, etc. while, at the same time, a professional proofreader is going through them too.

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It was really quite a surreal moment, looking at the title page. Have I done this? Has this actually happened? I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this but it really has not sunk in yet. But then, what will it feel like when it has? Can it possibly? Have I had too much coffee already? YES.

(‘Love is Blindness’ is a U2 song that I love. I listened to it approximately a million times while I was writing this book; it’s basically the soundtrack to it. The way it builds just kills me, and it’s a good parallel to the way your plot should build, I think. Listen to it here.)

WE HAVE A COVER!

Okay, you’ve scrolled down far enough. Here it is (drumroll, please): the cover of my debut thriller! What do you think?!

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SNEAKY NEW WEBSITE

So you’ll notice that the cover is blue, and everything around here is pink, and when things don’t match I come out in hives. It’s fine on a blog post, but I just couldn’t live with it on a “Books” page. What I needed was a “Books” page on here I could make blue, while keeping everything else as it was.

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I use WordPress.com, i.e. the free version, and I won’t hear a bad word said about it. I love it. But the ability to change individual colours and make other such tweaks are really limited – that’s the sacrifice you make for the fact that you don’t have to pay for it.  And yet, I really think if you use your imagination, you’ll find a way to do whatever you want…

This is my solution: I registered a new, free WordPress.com site consisting of just one page and chose the same theme that this one uses (Sela), only I chose different background/scheme colours. I use the custom menu feature, so on the new site I made a custom menu that exactly matches the menu of this one, i.e. has the same labels in the same order. I made all those labels point to this site, e.g. the “About” label points to the About page here via a custom link. Then I took the “Books” label from the menu on this site and made it point to the new, single-page site. Got all that? If not, just click on the “Books” option above/in the menu and you’ll see what I mean.

I did buy one thing: a custom domain. So my new sneaky website – that hides, essentially, inside this one – can also be found at DistressSignalsBook.com. Clever, eh? SMUG.

GOODREADS

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I’ve put the book on Goodreads. Please dash over there immediately and add it to your To Read list and stick around: there’ll be plenty of opportunities both on there and here to get your mitts on an advance reading copy. Stay tuned…

Book Two: AS YET UNTITLED

DELIVERY DATE: APRIL 2016

Do we have to ruin all the fun with talk of how the Dreaded First Draft of Book 2 is going?

Let’s not.

(It’s going, okay? It’s going. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’ve been making charts. That’s something, isn’t it? Don’t answer that.)

So that’s all the news for now. Join me next month for the next installment of Book One/Two!

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Where The Crying Happens

I love seeing where other people work (My Writing Room is my favourite feature on Novelicious) so today I thought I’d share what mine looks like.

That thought had nothing to do with the fact that I’m knee-deep in Book 2 and don’t have time to write an actual blog post, of course.

Nope.

I used to live in the most gorgeous apartment. It was lovely, and it was relatively big. Open spaces, full of light, a balcony perfect for coffee drinking and contemplating, and a whole wall just for my bookcases.

[gets teary-eyed just thinking about it]

Then, for some reason, I moved to Dublin, where the same rent was just about enough to cover a telephone box. I live in a studio apartment, essentially, although there is a door between the teensy kitchen and the main room. (Thank fudge – some of the places I went to see came with the added benefit of being able to reach the microwave from the bed. Hmm…) This means that everything has to be very organized, not take up much space and look nice, because I’m looking at it all the time.

So here it is, where the magic crying happens…

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  1. Excellent writing advice from Hemingway (and a birthday present from my friend Iain that came all the way from the famed Powell’s Books!)
  2. My Erin Condren life planner, filled with stickers for added procrastination. You can get one here. I recommend that you calculate the price based on the daily cost, i.e. divide the price by 18 (months) x 31 (days, on average). There. That’s much better, isn’t it?
  3. I keep this photo of eight-year-old me two-finger typing on the typewriter Santa brought to remind me that this is all I’ve ever wanted. (See it here.) I stare at it a lot when I have a synopsis to write. In front of it is a small blue deckchair encased in an acrylic cube, that reminds me of one of my favourite places: Nice.
  4. A blanket. I am always freezing. (Plus it disguises the fact that the chair does not match. MY EYES.)
  5. Coffee. Obvs, as the kids say.
  6. My vision board. I’m into the law of attraction, but not because I believe that you can order what you want from a magical universe like a drive-thru window. Instead, it’s because I think focusing on your goals or dreams does just that: it focuses you on your goals and dreams. Bonus: it takes AGES to go through piles of old magazines and Pinterest looking for images that appeal to you, and longer again to cut them out and glue them to a sheet of cardboard, and as you know I’ve never met a procrastination activity I didn’t like. (I’ve blurred out some of my loftier goals and dreams because, you know, hashtag potentially mortifying.)
  7. The Dreaded Draft Calendar. Ideally I have to finish a vomit draft of Book 2 around mid to the end of November, in order to stay on track with its delivery date and get my college assignments done. This is a constant reminder of how terrifyingly little time I have left. Yeah. So I should probably go…

Where do you write?

What Could Happen If You Worked As Hard As You Possibly Could?

Fact: I’ve never worked as hard in my entire life as I did last year.

(Because I’m a student, I now think in academic years, so I mean the period between  September 2014 and the end of May.)

Here’s another fact you might not know, one you might be surprised to learn: I had never worked hard before that.

Never.

In the last few months I’ve given this revelation a soft launch, telling a few people who know me in real life that I never worked hard before this past (academic) year. They have reactions like scoffing, eye-rolling, etc. ‘Yeah, right,’ they say. ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ I admitted to one person that I’m the laziest person I know and she said, ‘Lazy? Lazy? That’s not a word I’d associate with you at all.’

Well… Surprise!

I find it odd that people think prior to September 2014 I was a hard worker, but I must acknowledge that I’ve had a hand in spreading the lies. I constantly tell self-publishing authors that they’re not going to get anywhere without a lot of hard work – and that’s true. It is true that I did a lot of hard work. All the social media stuff, the million little things that go into self-publishing a book (or three), the speaking engagements, the blogging, etc.

But that is not the same as working hard. It’s certainly not the same as working as hard as I possibly could. I know it’s not, because it didn’t involve any real sacrifice.

Between March 2010 and March 2014, the list of tasks above was my full-time job. I did it for a few lazy hours a day, usually starting mid-morning. During the day, I was usually free to drop whatever I was doing and go out for coffee, or to see a movie, or basically to do whatever I wanted. At night you could usually find me watching TV with my laptop balanced on my knees typing a blog post or an e-mail or whatever, but that was more a habit than a necessity. There were times when self-imposed deadlines had me at my desk before dawn or into the night, but these occasions were few and far between. I had no other responsibilities. I was living with my parents. I never missed anything I wanted to see on TV, and I wanted to see a lot of things. Sometimes I even made a big flask of coffee and brought it upstairs, into my bedroom, so I wouldn’t have to walk all the way downstairs to achieve a caffeine refueling. That’s how lazy I was.

Things were going well – my self-published titles were keeping me in coffee grounds and ink cartridges as planned, I’d established a sideline career as a public speaker and a major publishing house had invited me to do well-paid freelance work for them that tied in with what I was doing for myself already – but they weren’t going as well as I wanted them to go. No where near it.

I still hadn’t got a book deal and, crucially,  I still hadn’t finished the novel I hoped I’d get a book deal for.

Almost all of the writer friends I’ve made over the last few years are now published writer friends. For a while there it felt like every single person I knew had a book deal. (Except me.) But whenever good news broke, I had to acknowledge that the person it was about was a person who worked a lot harder than me. Maybe they’d been getting up at 4:30am for well over a year now, to write before work. Maybe they’d been staying up until 4:30am because they couldn’t write during the day in a house full of kids. Maybe none of us had seen them in forever because every spare minute was spent adding to their WIP’s word count. They got what they wanted because they deserved it. They’d worked as hard as they possibly could.

Ricky Gervais has said that The Office was the first thing in his life he ever really worked hard at. I often wondered what would happen if I worked as hard as I could. My brother acts, and often he and I would say it aloud to one another: what could happen if we worked as hard as we possibly could?

In the end, I forced my own hand. I applied to do a four-year BA in English as a mature student, a move that would require a move to Dublin from Cork. I didn’t expect to get in so when I did, it suddenly meant that my novel had to get finished now, before the luxury of spare time completely disappeared. I got an agent during my first mid-term break, so I had to do a rewrite during term-time alongside all my classes, getting through my reading list, keeping up my freelance work and sleeping and eating and all that. Even my beloved TV fell by the wayside, and I didn’t read anything for pleasure for almost nine months. Actual sacrifices were made as opposed to me just “being busy”.

It was completely and utterly exhausting – after I delivered my rewrites I instantaneously developed a horrific flu and went to bed with Netflix for three days straight – but it was also exhilarating. Mostly because I knew it was going to lead somewhere, because I knew I was working as hard as I possibly could. I always thought I loved wasting time – Sweatpants & Sofa Time, to be specific – but it turns out I feel infinitely happier when I’m not wasting any time at all.

I also felt a seismic shift in how I approached my writing. Before, I’d have taken out my diary and looked for the blank spaces in which I could fit some writing time. Now, all time was writing time by default and everything else that I absolutely had to do – and only the things I absolutely had to do – would be squeezed in around it.

The most (pleasantly) surprising thing was the momentum that builds when you work like that. It got easier and easier to sit down at my desk and get going every day. I went from refusing to do anything unless I had a whole, clear afternoon, to scribbling sentences while the kettle boiled.

I have another crazy (academic) year ahead of me now: I have to deliver Book 2 by April, Book 1 comes out in June and I’m into the second year of my degree with its lecture schedule, reading list, essay assignments and, just after Book 2’s delivery date, exams. But now that I equate success with working as hard as I possibly can – and not a smidgen less – I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

What could happen if you worked as hard as you possibly could? What already has?

What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? How can you tell if you’re just doing hard work, or working hard? What’s the difference? Let me know in the comments below… 

(The featured image is of my Erin Condren Life Planner, which has changed my stationery-addict life. Find out more about her amazing products here.)