Tag Archives: publishing

I write… for her

I’m often asked who you should write for. Is it for a market, for yourself, for an audience? It’s taken me a long time to find the right answer because of course you should write for yourself and keep readers in mind, too. But I think I’ve finally worked out who I’m writing for: it’s all about this tiny photo I keep on my desk:

KIng Eds MeIt’s a very blurry photo of me, taken around 1990 when I was seventeen. I was at sixth-form college in Stourbridge studying for my English, History and Theatre Studies A-levels – and evenings and weekends at home I was working on my very first book.

I hadn’t told anyone I wrote. My family knew I was doing something because I was writing on a travel typewriter I’d been given for Christmas (remember those?) – the kind that became a rather heavy mini-suitcase when you closed the lid. They didn’t know the story I was writing, only the noise it made.

I loved drama and wanted to be an actress. I had a vision of myself as a confident woman one day, striding off into the world chasing after her dreams. On stage I was confident: in person I apologised, worried, played down my own achievements. I thought I was fat. (I wasn’t fat). I had a strong voice but whispered in choir because I’d been told it stood out too much. (It did stand out, that’s what made it awesome). But when I wrote, I could believe anything was possible – even if the many splodges of Tipp-Ex on the pages told a different story.

And then I decided to tell the guy I had a crush on that I wrote.

(You know a story that begins like this isn’t going to end well…)

He was the leading light in my Theatre Studies class and in the amateur theatre group I performed with on Saturdays. I was a T-Bird to his Danny Zuko, the Ugly Sister to his Prince Charming. He agreed to partner with me for a duologue piece as part of our course – the Inspector from J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls grilling Sheila Birling over her mistreatment of Eva Smith. While we were rehearsing alone one lunchtime in the drama studio, I seized my chance.

‘I’m writing a book, actually.’

What I imagined would happen next proves I’m both a writer to my core and a hopeless romantic: I imagined him taking my hand, my hair blowing around my shoulders, the London Philharmonic Orchestra wheeling into the background to accompany my confession with suitably sweeping strings. He would gaze into my eyes, murmuring, ‘I’ve waited my whole life for a woman who writes…’

What he actually said was a little different.

‘You write stories? Shouldn’t you have given that up at primary school?’

And that was when I quit as a writer.

I went home, binned the many sheets of my book, shelved my typewriter and sobbed into my duvet. I didn’t write another story for ten years.

I write for her.

I write for the teenager who believed one idiot instead of following her heart. I write for the young woman setting out into her life longing for adventure who came home and cowered instead. I write for her – because every chapter I write, every draft I finish, every book I edit and see through to publication, is proof she was right. It was possible. It is possible. It’s happening now.

She’s on my desk (flanked by the Tenth Doctor because she’s awesome and deserves it) and I see her every time I sit down to write. I want her to know that she gets to write books for a living. Books that have gone around the world, translated into fifteen languages, read by over a million people. I want her to believe in herself and stop hiding.

The story I started to write after the ten-year hiatus went on to become Fairytale of New York, after years of secret writing. I’m currently writing my twelfth novel and my eleventh, Our Story, publishes on 3rd September. It’s about two people chasing their dream of writing. And the male protagonist is called Joe – which is the name seventeen-year-old me chose for her very first male lead in the book she was dreaming about.

I think she’d like that.

 

I Write for Her

New vlog! New book, new ideas and news

My latest vlog is here and it’s packed with new things!

There’s news about where I’m at with Book 11 (out later this year), my revamped newsletter and brand new Book Club, plus my online shop and exciting things coming later this year, which I’m very chuffed about…

Ask me a question for the next vlog! What would you like to know about writing, publishing, editing and books? Do you have a burning question about my novels, or a writing problem you’d like some help with? You can leave a comment below this post or contact me on Twitter @wurdsmyth, on Instagram @wurdsmyth, on Facebook at MirandaDickinsonAuthor, or via email: mirandawurdy@gmail.com If I answer your question, I’ll give you a shout out in my vlog.

Happy watching! xx

A Special Short Story for Christmas

Happy Christmas, lovelies! I wanted to give you all a little something to say thank you for your support in 2019, so read on for an EXCLUSIVE SHORT STORY…

the-christmas-window-by-miranda-dickinson

Click the link below to read the story!

It’s been a bit of a year this year and there have been lots of challenges both personally and professionally. I celebrated a decade as a published author and saw the publication of my tenth novel, The Day We MeetAgain. I won an award from wonderful writing collective 26 – the first award of my career – and I wrote what I hope will be a career-defining novel that will publish in 2020. I also battled illness, faced scary money worries and had to re-evaluate how I see myself. I’m going into the next decade understanding where I am and believing for better.

So here’s a gift from me to you, to thank you for all of your wonderful messages, book love and support this year and throughout my writing career. I promise you so many more stories to come – and this is the first.

THE CHRISTMAS WINDOW is a short story with snow, love and just a little bit of Christmas magic and I hope you enjoy it. Click the link below to read it.

Wishing you all the brightest things for 2020 xx

The Christmas Window ©Miranda Dickinson 2019

#Wurdy10k – My Gift to Writers

To celebrate reaching 10,000 followers, I’m doing a seven-day extravaganza of freebies, giveaways and competitions. Keep watching my tweets to see all of them! For DAY THREE, I have a very special prize and a big announcement for writers…

Wurdy10k Day 3First up, I have a prize for one published writer (traditional or self-published) and one not-yet-published writer.

For A PUBLISHED WRITER I am offering a free one-hour Skype chat where we can talk about your writing. Whatever you need – whether it’s encouragement, advice, or help – we can cover it during our chat. I want to support authors at all stages of their careers and help you stay in love with your words. However I can help, I will.

For AN UNPUBLISHED WRITER I am offering a free three-chapter critique of the book you are are writing or have completed. I can offer advice on tightening up the prose, creating an opening chapter that will have readers turning the pages to read more and crafting a novel opening that will grab the attention of agents, publishers and readers alike.

To be in with a chance of winning these prizes, email me: mirandawurdy@gmail.com and tell me about yourself and your work – and why you would like to win. The closing date for entries is 30th November 2019.

And here’s my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT for everyone: On THURSDAY 7th NOVEMBER I am hosting the very first WriteFoxyLIVE!

WriteFoxy LOGOWriteFoxyLIVE will be a one-hour Facebook Live event where you can ask any question about writing, editing and publishing. I’ll have lots of encouragement for you and best of all this is totally free! No registration needed, just join me on my FB author page: facebook.com/MirandaDickinsonAuthor. For five years my WriteFoxy events have been loved and enjoyed by writers at all stages of writing, from brand new writers to established authors. It’s a place where you can be encouraged, fall back in love with your words and hang out with fellow wordsmiths. I’ve wanted to make it available to everyone for a long time, so I’m thrilled to be bringing you WriteFoxyLIVE on THURSDAY 7th NOVEMBER, 7.30pm-8.30pm. It’s going to be so much fun!

Author Spotlight: TOBY FROST

On my blog I love to bring you authors I love who I think you’ll love too. Today I’m thrilled to welcome the brilliant TOBY FROST into the Author Spotlight. Author of the utterly fab Space Captain Smith series, he is now writing a new, darker fantasy series, the first book of which – Up To The Throne has just been published. 

Toby Frost author pic

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I first started writing when I was about 12. I can’t remember why, or what it was that pushed me from reading novels to writing them. My first efforts were scribbled in a small blue notebook, along with illustrations. I don’t remember either the text or the story being especially good!

What interests you as a writer?

So many things! Firstly, there’s a sense of exploring and creating. You’re showing the reader people and places, but you’re also creating them, so in a way you’re discovering them as well. I often find myself thinking “What if this happened?” and then following the story from there.

And then there’s characters. People are just fascinating, whether your book is set now, in the past or in the distant future. You’ve got to have strong characters that the reader cares about. That means that, whoever they are, what they’re doing has to make sense. I love seeing what happens when two very different characters clash.

For me, concepts like theme and subtext take second place to the story and characters. Because I write fantastical stories, I’m often writing about something in the real world through a surreal, magical lens. But it’s always got to feel convincing. I find history fascinating, and I often steal bits and pieces to make my writing more believable. Whether you’re talking about a trip to the shops or a journey to Mars, the reader has to think, “Yes, that’s what it would be like.”

Toby Frost SCS Books 1

Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I never know how to answer this question! I think about what I’m going to write for a long time before I start. I’m often pondering a second book while I’m writing a first one. I think I’m probably more a plotter, but I do sometimes have moments where I stop and think “Hey! Wouldn’t it by better if I just did something completely different?”. So maybe 75% plotter.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I don’t, really. I don’t find it difficult to write, and I’m lucky in that. I don’t have to be in a particular mood or even a place. Having a day job, I tend to work in the lunchtimes and evenings, but I’d be just as happy writing at other times. Preferably on a luxury yacht or my own private spacecraft.

Toby Frost SCS Books 2.jpg

What inspires you as a writer?

Pretty much everything! I’ve come to think that writing is a way of interpreting and processing the things I experience, albeit in a metaphorical and indirect way. Also, I’m influenced by history, by places and by other fiction, written and visual. So I’m always soaking up ideas and influences, although a lot get discarded. I don’t think I can switch that off – not that I’d want to!

What are the best things about being a writer?

One of the best things must be seeing my own work in bookshops. To see your own novel for sale with a great cover is amazing. A few years ago, I did a reading at a steampunk event and a man came up to me afterwards. He said that a friend of his had got very depressed after a death in the family, and my books had helped cheer him up. That was a pretty excellent moment, too.

And the worst?

It’s hard to think of any. Maybe the expectation that some people have that you’re extremely wealthy? If I had to point to one moment, it would be a couple of years ago at a writing convention, where I was on a panel with another author who I was trying to impress with my literary knowledge. I climbed up onto the stage and whacked my head on a low-hanging beam. After I’d finished staggering around clutching my head, I went on to do the panel, but my aura of genius was gone (if it had ever been there!). Goodness only knows what I said after being hit on the head.

Toby Frost book pic

Tell me about your new novel, Up To The Throne.

It’s a fantasy story set in an imaginary city in a magically-enhanced version of the Renaissance. Giulia, the lead character, returns to her home city after several years, to take revenge on the man who tried to kill her. She’s clever, skilled and still burning with anger, but the world has moved on, and her enemy is no longer a criminal but a rising politician with designs on the throne. Killing him could throw the principality into chaos. As she closes in on him, she starts to realise just what taking her revenge will do to the people she cares about, and has to make hard choices.

How have you found writing a darker fantasy series? Has it required a different approach to your Space Captain Smith books?

It is different, because it stresses different things. Usually, I worry if I’ve gone for very long without telling a joke. Here, it’s more that I’ve got to keep the atmosphere up, and keep the story moving. The same basics of character and storytelling are still there, but a more serious story needs a more engrossing plot. However, in terms of actually writing it, it’s been very similar. Things have inspired the writing in much the same way, and the characters and setting of Giulia’s fantastical Renaissance come together in much the same way as the Space Empire does in Space Captain Smith.

If you could have a dream cover quote from any author, living or dead, who would it be?

“It filled me with laughter, joy and hope for the future.” – George Orwell.

What are your top three tips for writers?

Well, first up, a disclaimer: the more I write, the less comfortable I am in telling other people how to do it. I don’t think there’s a set route to good writing, much less to getting published. But, since you asked…

1) Practice. Get used to the experience of turning thoughts into words. The main cause of books never getting into print is that they’re never finished. Practice not only improves your writing, but gets you into the habits of writing and editing. The task of putting words down becomes much less daunting once you’ve got accustomed to it.

2) Learn about writing. In the past, I would have said “Read more books” here, but it’s not just reading: it’s understanding and learning from books, TV shows, films, real life and anything else. You can learn a lot reading good-quality novels outside your usual genre. Personally, I get a lot out of reading how-to books (Stephen King’s On Writing is particularly good), but it varies from person to person. One very good way of learning is to go to events or join a writing group. My own writing improved vastly after joining the St Albans writing group.

3) Persist! It’s easy to be put off by your first few rejections, but you have to get used to it and carry on. If the first book you write isn’t a massive success, don’t give up. Start work on another project (but don’t throw the first one away! You never know, after all). Keep learning, keep going to events, making contacts, finding out new things. You might find that something you couldn’t get traditionally published works well as a self-published book, or vice versa. The important thing is to stay enthusiastic about your writing and always keep trying to improve and succeed.

Do you have a dream project you’d love to write?

I’ve got two! The first is a series of epic fantasy novels set in the same world as Up To The Throne. They’d have a wider setting and be about more powerful characters, but they’d tie into the Giulia stories and tell a grander, longer story. The other project is a set of linked novellas with an ensemble cast, about the futuristic secret service glimpsed in the Space Captain Smith books. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve started work on both…

Thanks so much for braving the Author Spotlight! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Only that Up To The Throne is available on Kindle and in paperback. Just click this link!

How fab was that?! I’m a huge fan of Toby’s writing and can’t wait to read Up To The Throne. You can find out more about Toby at his website, on Facebook at tobyfrostauthor and follow him on Twitter @isambardsmith. Watch out for more Author Spotlights coming soon! 

The Day We Meet Again is coming soon!

I had the idea for The Day We Meet Again two and a half years ago, walking through St Pancras Station in London, when I saw the statue of Sir John Betjeman for the very first time…

Everything appeared in that moment: Phoebe and Sam – the two people who would meet and fall for one another when their trains were delayed; the question of whether you should put your life on hold if love takes you by surprise, even the journeys both of them would take. It doesn’t always happen like that, at least not for me. But the story was instantly one I wanted to write.

As it turned out, Phoebe and Sam would face more delays until I could get them onto the page. But they refused to leave until I did. This year, on 5th September, they will finally star in my tenth novel.

Watch out for a big, sparkly announcement about The Day We Meet Again this Friday (31st May) at 5pm – and keep watching this blog, my TwitterInstagram and Facebook posts for lots more exciting things….

I can’t wait to share Phoebe and Sam’s story with you. It’s been a bit of a long wait, but it’ll be worth it!

TDWMA Proof Spines Stack

 

NEW VLOG – My BIG P-Day Surprise!

When I agreed to meet Cathy Bramley for lunch on P-Day for Somewhere Beyond the Sea, I had no idea what she’d secretly planned…

Instead of a quiet lunch and stock signing at Waterstones Birmingham, Cathy had arranged for my wonderful friends Jo QuinnRachael Lucas and my lovely agent Hannah to travel from all over the country to give me the BIGGEST surprise. I have never had a day like it!

I filmed a vlog on the day – you can see how utterly delighted and shocked I was! Apologies for the squeals! I’d expected publication day to be a quiet, little celebration but it turned into the biggest, sparkliest, most amazing P-Day of my career. And it meant so much. I didn’t feel alone, like I’d feared I might. The love I felt from everyone – my lovely friends and the brilliant booksellers at Waterstones Birmingham who were there, everyone who sent me gorgeous messages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – has been absolutely phenomenal and I am completely overwhelmed by it.

Thank you, too, if you’ve bought Somewhere Beyond the Sea in paperbackebook or the utterly wonderful audiobook narrated by Clare Corbett and Jonathan Bailey. Thank you for believing in the story I wanted to tell. It means more than I’ll ever be able to express.

So, here’s the vlog (including the spookily fab accordion player we met playing Somewhere Beyond the Sea as we left the bookshop!). Enjoy! xx

New vlog series – MEET BILL BROTHERSON

I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book.

I’m also giving you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, revealing who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and telling your what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the next: Meet BILL BROTHERSON (he’s a baddie. Altogether now, BOOOO!) 

Happy watching – and let me know what you think in the comments below! xx

New vlog series – MEET ELINOR CARNE

I love finding out about the making of films and TV series, and those cast and crew interviews that always happen before a new programme or movie comes out. So, I’m doing it with my new book!

I’ve filmed a series of vlogs about Somewhere Beyond the Sea – talking about the characters, the locations I chose for the book and what it was like to write the book. I’m also going to give you some exclusive snippets about hidden gems in the book, who I’d cast in the movie version (*coughs* *looks around for any film producers in the area*) and what it was like to be involved in the amazing audiobook version of my story.

Here’s the next: Meet ELINOR CARNE (The Victorian astronomer who once lived in the house Seren and her friends are trying to save from development…)

Happy watching – and let me know what you think in the comments below! xx

TALKING GRIEF – Somewhere Beyond the Sea

When I was writing Somewhere Beyond the Sea, my Dad suddenly passed away. How do you write a book with grief as a key theme when you’ve just lost someone you love?

This is an intensely personal vlog, but I wanted to talk about the experience of what I learned about my own grief while putting Seren and Jack’s grief on the page. Also, how hearing my words spoken back to me, in a key scene read by the actor Jonathan Bailey in the audio version of the book, made me realise what I’d written.

This was tough to film and hard to watch back, but I think it’s right to share it. We don’t talk about grief, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to talk about it in Somewhere Beyond the Sea. Often books like mine are dismissed as ‘light’ and wrongly criticised for shying away from the issues that really matter. I hope this demonstrates how wrong that assumption is.

Thanks for watching x