Books, Food and Me!!

Jennas journey largeWe had a rather interesting start, Julie and I. We followed each other on Twitter and when I put a tweet stating my availability as a beta reader, she replied asking for me to read her debut novel ‘Jenna’s Journey’. What followed was a spellbound me reading her Greek Mystery and then finally turning reviewer for her.

She returns to Books, Food and Me as an interview participant today!

1. Tell me about yourself!

I come from Yorkshire in the North of England originally and went to University in Hull where I studied French Language and Literature.  I spent many years travelling and teaching English as a Foreign Language before returning to the UK. I now live in rural Gloucestershire in South-West England with my husband and young son and a dippy cat with half a tail. I still work part time as a distance language tutor as well as…

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Here’s a link to the lovely Niyate’s blog site

Books, Food and Me!!

“When Jenna decides on a whim to go to Greece, she’s trying to escape her failing marriage.  Will Greg let her go so easily though? Can she make a new future for herself and how did she get involved in an antiques smuggling ring? Is fellow holidaymaker Tom all he seems and will it be happy ever after with Nikos?  It’s not until twenty-five years later that some of the questions are finally answered”

Stay Tuned for all posts related to Julie’s wonderful and thrilling book, Jenna’s Journey!!!

Jennas journey large

A Books, Food and Me EXCLUSIVE!!

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I don’t know about you but in the past, whenever I downloaded an ebook and found formatting errors such as different fonts and print sizes on the same page or characters that hadn’t appeared correctly throughout the book, especially accents etc, I did admit to thinking that it made an otherwise great book look.. well .. a bit sloppy. This is not unique to individuals self-publishing either, I may add! Well, never again!

I have just spent the best part of three days trying to format my first book. Now I know some of you out there have probably just downloaded a pdf file to Kindle without any problems but I was advised to strip out all the old formatting and create a prc document. It probably isn’t that difficult except that I have been working on a Mac and ended up tranferring documents between Mac and PC. I ended up with an O and an accent wherever there should have been speech marks, none of the apostrophes were correct nor any of the emdashes that I had inserted. It looked a mess and I didn’t realise why.

Thanks to a good friend who spent a whole day reformatting the document, I now have a manuscript to be proud of, with the added advantage that if I want to send it as a gift anytime, I now have it in a format that will go straight to Kindle. Don’t ask me exactly how she did it though, I am still in a state of awe!

I can scarcely believe that after carrying the characters and ideas around in my head for what seems like years, I finally have a ‘finished’ manuscript – ye ha! However, once the euphoria wore off, I must admit to a feeling of ‘what on earth do I do now?’ It’s all very well to say the manuscript is finished but in reality, I hadn’t a clue what to do next. Luckily my writer friend Linn has taken me under her wing.  As an old hand at this game, so to speak, – she has been published both via the traditional method and epub- she has guided me through the next stages.  By the way, do check out her website where you’ll find lots of information on lifestyle tips as well as books. Here’s the useful advice I’ve been given so far.

Obviously you will want your book to be as good as it can be. If you intend to go down the epub route as I do, then go through it with a fine toothcomb for any obvious errors, it’s pretty basic but surprising how often you might miss a full stop out or speech marks etc.

Start to compile a list of favourite turns of phrase that you have a tendancy to overuse. If you highlight common words like, said, told, just, also etc you’ll soon see if you have used too many of them too close together. You can them change these favourites for an alternative.

Do a timeline to check that all the events you write about are in the correct sequence. Also watch out contradictory  weather conditions if you have made reference to this in earlier chapters.

When you have got your manuscript into the best state that you possibly can on your own, then and only then should you send it out to others for an appraisal. This might mean calling in a few favours or putting a request out on Twitter but you need a handful of objective people who will give you an honest critique. You can naturally give it to an editor but be prepared to pay and make sure you know what you’re getting. If you can afford it, then I would recommend this route. Being cash-strapped myself, I’m relying on a few Beta readers for feedback and close friends to spot any errors in grammar, punctuation etc.

Before you send your manuscript winging its way over the ether, do attach a standard copyright agreement on the front page and send the finished version to yourself as an attachment but don’t open it. You’ll then have dated evidence that the manuscript is yours should there be any dispute in the future.

I’m now anxiously awaiting feedback on my baby and know that my first book ‘Jenna’s Journey’ will be all the better for it. I’m not sure the same can be said for my nails though!!

On my twitter profile I call myself a ‘would-be writer’.  I’ve had quite a few comments about this mostly from people asking why I don’t call myself a writer as I’m obviously working on my first novel.  I suppose I should really call myself a ‘would-be’ author then. The problem is, at what stage can you refer to yourself as a writer/author?

It’s not that I don’t take my writing seriously.  On the contrary, I aspire like many others to one day having a book published. Something stops me though from referring to myself as a writer or indeed an author and i wonder if this is because I can’t aspire to be as good as those novelists I admire. It could also be that I don’t write full time – rather I grab moments when I can around work and looking after a young child. Thidly, I haven’t had anything published yet so how can I think of myself as a writer when nobody has read anything I’ve written?

I’d love to know at what point you started to consider youelf a writer/author.  Was it when you first put pen to paper? ( or typed your first words).  Was it when you finished a manuscript?  Did you need to be a published writer before you dared call yourself by that hallowed term or did you ned to be a best seller – in the Amazon 100 for example?

Leave a message and see what others think?

My first foray into writing a novel started off all right – okay, so there were a few moments where the plot took an unexpected twist and then the characters took on a life of their own, but in general I felt it wasn’t going along too badly for a first attempt.

Now, I didn’t sit down and plot it out chapter by chapter, which on reflection, would have been a marvellous idea, but I just can’t seem to write like that.  I don’t know about you, but once my fngers start flying over the keyboard, anything can happen!  So, I had my beginning and I also had an ending in mind. The hard bit was how to get my characters from where they were to where I wanted them to be.

I don’t mind admitting that I reached an impasse.  My story was stuck.  I couldn’t get it to advance and even when I wrote the outline, it still wasn’t anywhere long enough.  I spoke to others about this problem and got some good advice.  One tweep suggested I think of the worst thing that could happen to my character and write about that.  Another suggested that I go back and edit what I’d already written so that I could see where it needed filling out. The problem was, I didn’t want to write just anything for the sake of it!   Bearing in mind that whatever I wrote could always be deleted at a later date, I just went with the flow and wrote, wrote, wrote, even if it didn’t seem very good.  The upshot was that the story took off in yet another direction with more characters that I hadn’t imagined at the beginning.  I’m not sure if this will solve the problem of the ‘middle bit’, but it has certainly got me back into the swing of things.  Just hope the momentum lasts!

Let me know how you’ve overcome this tediious problem.

Some people say that what you write is influenced to a large extent by what you read. This also means that the genre will depend on what you enjoy.  After all, there’s no point writing about zombie vampires if that doesn’t float your boat.  Obviously, if it does, then that’s the genre for you! I do feel that my first novel, ‘The Greek Urn’ is dictating its own genre or should I say genres. as it doesn’t fit easily into one specific genre. It started out as a romance set in Greece and London.  Along the way, a Greek urn which I discovered in a charity shop has involved itself in my story, which gives it an added plot and a bit more depth.  It’s also  a journey of a young woman trying to find herself and through her guardian Angel, we catch glimpses of the past or the future? There’s also a bit of erotic sex in there as well.   So, whatever genre it ends up being in the end, I hope I’m going to be pretty happy continuing in much the same mould in the future as I know how authors are pigeon-holed.  My advice to self –  just write , write , write and see where the wonderful journey takes you.  Oh, and be sure to enjoy it along the way.