Tag Archives: authors

WriteFoxy: A New Spin on Book Terms

I’ve had enough of beating myself up as a writer.

I don’t know about you, but the constant lurching between confidence and doubt is exhausting. I think I’ve conquered it and then, right in the middle of writing a new book – when I’m mired in first draft sludge around about 59k words, or going through a line edit where I’m losing sight of the story, it hits me:

Kaablaamo! Dastardly Doubt muscles in and ruins everything.

It’s worse when you hear people dismissing books with well-worn terms: ‘an easy read‘, ‘a holiday book‘, someone read it ‘in one sitting‘, a ‘guilty pleasure‘.

Shudders. Screaming at reviews. Dreading book discussions on social media. Feeling dismissed, undervalued and possibly in the wrong profession. It’s not pretty. Or even remotely fun.

But I’ve been thinking. What if there were a way to flip these terms to see a more positive version?

Let’s take them one at a time. (Brace yourself…)

ABC blocksAN EASY READ

Ugh. The ultimate dismissive term for the book you have invested a year of your life (or longer) lovingly crafting.

Or is it?

I used to work as a copywriter and there was a phrase we used in the design department: when you’ve done your job properly, nobody notices. I think that’s true of writing books, too. An ‘easy read’ seems like a criticism, but look at it this way: an easy read means the story flowed, the pace was good, dialogue felt natural and the reader easily entered into the world the book created.

When something is written well, you don’t notice the workings of it. You just enter in. And trust me, if the book was badly written, it wouldn’t be easy to read. It would be clunky, annoying, a book to be flung across the room rather than raced through.

To write something that flows and compels readers to keep turning the page is a hugely difficult thing to get right. The best comedy is effortless to watch but hides hours of work to perfect the timing, the rhythm, the punch line. It’s hard to write well. It takes skill and perseverance. But when you’ve done it right, nobody notices the effort. They just see the story.

If readers call your book an easy read, it means your pace, flow, characters, world-building and structure worked. That’s a world away from a dismissive term, don’t you think?

Holiday beach imageA HOLIDAY BOOK

A ‘beach read’. A ‘poolside book’.

Argh!

It conjures up images of cheap, trashy pulp fiction bought at the airport and hastily stashed in hand luggage. Something you wouldn’t dream of reading in your everyday life but, like Sambuca shots and stuffed donkeys, is somehow permissible on your week away in the sun.

Hang on, though.

Holidays are precious. We save hard for them and count down the days to them each year. Our one week away from work, from the concerns of our normal life, is hard-won and much longed for. So the books we choose to take with us have to be good. People agonise over which books to take: the right book can be a memorable part of your time away; the wrong book feels so much more of a let-down.

So, if someone has chosen to take your book on holiday – and invested time in their already precious time away to spend with your characters and your story – isn’t that the greatest compliment? They chose your book. And it was perfect for that moment. Whenever they see your book on their shelf at home, they’ll remember the beach they read it on, the pool your words kept them company by, and exactly where they were when they read your story.

That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Reading pileI READ IT IN ONE SITTING

You spend countless hours – years, even – perfecting your book. The unseen months of heartache, doubt and sheer hard graft are hidden within the pages of your novel. And then, eight hours after it’s published, someone tweets you to say they read it in an afternoon.

What?!

I understand the shudder of loathing that follows a review where the reader says they read your book in one sitting. It feels dismissive. It cheapens your effort. And it makes you wonder if they noticed all the brilliant, hard-fought paragraphs you sweated buckets over.

Or how about this..?

Imagine they became so caught up in the story you created that nothing else mattered. The piles of crockery remained dirty in the sink. The television was dark and silent. They never made it further than their car in the car park outside the book shop because they couldn’t bear to leave your beautiful book world for even a minute. They held their breath. Pages turned at speed as they rooted for your characters, rode the emotional roller-coaster of your story and raced towards the end because they had to know what happens…

You’ve read books like that. I have, too. And just because you were gripped by the story and dashed through it, I’ll bet you’re still thinking about it now. Imagine if someone said that about your book…

Wow.

Go ahead. Race through my book in one sitting, please!

Guilty imageA GUILTY PLEASURE

Okay, I’ll give you this one. It’s a horrible term. Feel free to kick it to the kerb, strap a jet-pack to its sorry back and blast it away from earth into the endless beyond. Nobody should ever feel guilty about reading. Ever.

…Although, if someone does say that about your book, there are two positives to take away from it. Firstly, it says more about their fear of literary snobs than the merit of your book. Secondly, they secretly loved it.

I would far rather someone termed my book a ‘pleasure’ than a chore. And if they are worried so much about what a snobbish lit-splainer might say, they wouldn’t feel guilty about finding a book hard to read. (Because literary snobs believe ‘difficult’ books are the only ones that matter.) The fact is, they loved your book. And they will probably buy your next one to snuggle up in secret with, too…

Being a writer is tough. We pour our hearts into what we do, but that means we wear our hearts on our sleeve, so it’s easy to get hurt. I hope these flipped book terms help you see them differently next time they are used to describe your books.

Keep doing what you do, lovely author. Keep caring. Because it matters.

#WouldLoveThisBook – spreading book love!

After the success of #LoveThisBook on Twitter, I asked twitterers which books they are most excited to read in 2017. Again, the response was huge – with more conversations, delighted authors and general book excitement…

I’ve really loved talking about books on Twitter this weekend! As with #LoveThisBook, #WouldLoveThisBook brought a wealth of book recommendations, with people tweeting their own wishlists and others discovering titles to add to theirs.

The list is still growing – and you can add your most-wanted books for 2017 by tweeting me @wurdsmyth, using the hashtag #WeLoveThisBook. But I’ve Storified the current selection as nominated by readers and authors today – I’ll keep updating it as more tweets arrive. Get your book wishlists ready and happy reading!

Come to my first Writers’ Inspiration Day!

I’m so excited to announce that I will be running my very first day conference for writers – The Write Foxy! Writers’ Inspiration Day!

And the best bit is, you are invited!

Write Foxy!

I’ve heard so much about writers at all stages of their writing careers struggling lately and the thing that’s struck me is how many of us are battling to keep sight of why we dreamed of writing stories in the first place. Following on from my 2014 writing resolution to Write Foxy – i.e. write what I love and reconnect with the sense of fun that is so often lost in the sheer hard work of writing books – I am putting together a day for writers to meet, share ideas, be inspired, write and, most of all, remember why we love writing!

The Write Foxy! Writers’ Inspiration Day takes place at the very lovely De Vere Village Urban Resort Dudley on Saturday 1st February, from 9am – 4pm. Refreshments will be available throughout the day and a full buffet lunch will also be included. The day will consist of a mixture of inspirational speakers, networking opportunities and the Write Foxy! Writers’ Room where you can hang out with other writers and work on your own projects. The day will be fun, inspirational and a great opportunity for you to invest in yourself as a writer. The event costs £95 per person and includes all of the above, plus session notes and a goody bag. Places are very limited, so book now to avoid disappointment!

BOOK YOUR TICKETS – CLICK HERE!

>>> F.A.Q’s >>>

Don’t Just Write: Write Foxy!

A day for writers to come together, share ideas, be inspired and, most of all, reconnect with a love of writing. Part conference, part writers’ retreat, the Write Foxy! Day will encourage you to make the most of your writing, learn from the experience of bestselling authors whilst also providing space for you to work on your own projects. Refreshments will be available all day and a full buffet lunch is included.

Who is the Write Foxy! Day for?

Everyone who writes! Whether you are just starting out, are working towards becoming a published or self-published author or are already published, this day offers something for you.

Will the Write Foxy! Day teach me how to write a novel?

No, but it will inspire you to make the most of your writing, whatever stage you are at. It’s an inspiration day that will leave you fired up, armed with new tips and raring to pursue your writing goals.

What does Write Foxy! mean?!

Write Foxy! is all about writing what you’re passionate about, keeping fun at the centre of your writing and loving what you do. So many writers at all stages of their writing careers struggle with doubts, fatigue, a sense of hopelessness and a lack of motivation: this day is designed to reconnect you to the reason you started writing. If you believe in and love what you write, readers will too!

BOOK YOUR TICKETS – CLICK HERE!

Why books are like a cinema just for you…

Today, I sat in a cinema all by myself and watched a film. 

This is not a statement that I have no friends or that I’m a rock-star author who can command private screenings. It was just a lovely, serendipitous happening. But it made me think about what writers do for our readers.


Image: TheNextWeb.com

I didn’t have special permission from the director to view the film alone. I didn’t have to pay a King’s ransom for the opportunity. I didn’t even have to book the experience in advance. I simply turned up at my local multiplex cinema on a Saturday morning and bought a regular ticket for the first show of the day. As it happened, nobody else had the same idea and so, with my £6.20 ticket, I watched the film as the only person in the cinema. Yes, I felt like a celebrity. And yes, I grinned like a complete loon all through the film. It was one of those moments that probably won’t ever happen again, but I loved every second of it.

And then, it hit me: as an author every book I write offers each reader an experience like this.

Every author who writes a story for other people to read is inviting those readers into an amazing world which feels as if it was created just for them. The audience of one. It doesn’t matter if a book is read by one person or several million, the experience is the same. We offer people the chance to step into their own private cinema of their imagination and project a story into it for them to enjoy. And as each reader’s ideas and expectation of the story are different, each mind-movie is different, too. We give readers an indulgent, VIP experience by welcoming them into worlds of our creation, no matter who or where in the world they are.

That’s why books are magical.

I mean, where else can you receive that kind of attention for less than a price of a cinema ticket?

For more writing inspiration, visit my blog: Coffee & Roses.