Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The fierce powers of social networking.........

So it all started a few years back when I joined MySpace....yes I was late to the party and to be honest I didn't like it, barely used it and closed it down after about 2 months. Then a friend send to a request to join the new phenomena that is Facebook, I ignored the requested for a while, after all why would I join another little web site that would mean nothing to me and hardly anyone was using? Then I got another request and another and another until I had almost a dozen sitting in my inbox looking at me. If I had that many requests then maybe this new thing was worth a look. I took the plunge and dipped my toe into the social networking world. Four years later I am still a big FB user, although I am not one of these people who feels the need to contact every person I have every known and 'friend' them, I still am a big users, connecting with family and friends and making new friends...but not in a weird stalking kind of way!! 

As I have become more serious about my writing and have been trying to learn more and more about not only the actual telling of the a story but about the marketing of not only the story but of myself as well. After all I am the brand.....granted I am more Primark than Armani but still, to quote a game show whose name I can't remember..."you have to be in it to win it!" With that in mind I have now taken my toe out of the water, climbed up to the highest diving board and swan dived into social networking like you would not believe. I am now on Twitter, have a blog (in case you were wondering what you were reading)and now I've taken the leap into the Goodread.com world....don't know about that? Well I am still working it out my own self so when I get a handle on it I will let you know.

I am starting to use Twitter more, I am following not only friends and family, but other writers, editors, publishers and to me that has, so far, been a mine of information on submission calls, along with hints and tips on what these publishers, all of whom I hope to pitch to one day, are looking for.

So lets recap I am on facebook, Twitter, Blogger and Goodreads. I started out with quirky little names for both the Twitter and Blogger accounts, but reading a post by Xandra James (you can see her blog, she is in my list on the right of the screen) who has been taking a course recently and posted a snippet about it. Basically it was such obvious advice I am ashamed to say I never saw it. Like I mentioned before if you are a writer then your name, or pen name as the case may be, is your brand and if you want people to get involved in your work, to get them interested in what you are going or simple let people know you are out there then having a user name like FluffyBunnyFeet2009 might be cute but means nothing to those looking for you. Your name or pen name is what they will be looking for and how can they find you unless you use it!

Now if you go looking for me on either Twitter or FB all you have to do is check out Cherie Nicholls and there I will be!

I have to say though with all these social networking sites and the time it takes to get them going and get a good understanding of them I can understand why Shelly Laurenston, FYI One of the BEST authors! I love her Pride series, if you don't know her check out her website - simply type in her name on google and guess what...yep she will be there!!  Anyway Shelly Laurenston actually says on her webpage that she doesn't have a FB or Twitter account because she is too busy writing to maintain them. That is something I can understand it takes some time and dedication to get twitter and goodreads going. Although I don't doubt it will completely worth it!!!

Darn my full time actually paying job from getting in the way!!!

Wow, who would have thought that being or trying to be a writer can be such hard work....well apart from the actual writing of the story that is!!  :D

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Crit groups....don't knock it until you've tried it!

I may sound like a broken record but I am a firm believer in the Crit Group and that if you ever want to succeed as a writer you need a group of people who will be honest with you about your work and not just tell you what they think you want to hear.

I have been exceptionally lucky that I have two groups of people who will do that for me. One group consists of Authors –in-Waiting like my self, who understand the trauma I go through trying to get a chapter from my head and on to the page and are able to talk me back from the edge when I loose all faith in my ability to spell my own name let alone write. The other group is a couple of friends who, between them, have known me for the majority of my life both at home and professionally and who are able to read my work objectively with red pens! (Seriously without one of them I would not have gotten through my English ‘A’ level because I cannot spell not for love nor money!!!)

I sent my current WIP (Work In Progress) to a couple of different people within my writing group and got loads of feed back. I decided to collate it all on to one main document using different colours for different peoples changes and you know what I found out? That not everyone sees that same mistakes. Granted they did catch loads of the same spelling mistakes (really I am not even joking my spelling sucks royally!) but they each caught errors that the others didn’t.

This to my mind goes to show that you really need a crit group or a few different people to go over your work because one person is never going to see everything and you want your work to be as perfect as you can get it if you want to succeed in getting the attention of an Editor.

I can honestly admit that my writing started off as almost juvenile really but with the help and support of my crit groups I have, I think anyway, become a better writing.Thats what we do for each other we support, advise and generally cheerlead (seriously we have some great routines!). It's not just about being human spell checkers. Even those of my crits who are not writers have supported me and given me the proverbial 'high five' when I have doubted myself. It's all part and parcel of what a crit group is.

With the advice and direction sometimes given without them even realising it, I have been able to hone my craft even more. Yep that’s right I said CRAFT…..'cause let’s be honest it is a craft, we may not use paint, clay or wood but we are creating pictures and moulding characters for your entertainment. It’s not easy getting the story out of your head and onto the page in way that takes the reader on a journey that gives them highs and lows, laughter and tears and ultimately leads them to the Happy Ever After moment that has them putting down your book with a smile on their on faces. It takes skill in your craft to be able to do that well.

Now as you may or may not know I write romance stories, yes I know you can stop laughing all those of you who know I am one of the least romantic people in the known world! But the romance I write isn’t really what you would call “traditional” its more of a fantasy world, where people turn into wolfs and tigers and bears and…….well it’s my fantasy world they can change into anything I want.

So in honour of my crit groups please find below the first little bit of my current WIP. Dedicated to the UCW girls and Tracy and Tasha……..without whom I would still be hiding my writing and pretending it's nothing more that silly scribbles!

Leashed by a Wolf - Chapter 1 – by Cherie Nicholls 

Leaning back in to the shadows Laney sipped her drink. She had been here an hour hiding in the shadows of the darkest corner in the bar. She had been planning tonight for a long time and nothing was going to ruin it.
The door opened and Heath walked in, the slow confident stride he had carried him over to the bar with a grace most catwalk models would be proud to have.
She had waited five years for this night, five long years of cold lonely nights. Taking another sip of her drink Laney slipped out of the chair and strolled up behind him.
She saw the second he caught her scent his spine went ridged and his shoulders tensed.
He opened his mouth to give her the lecture she knew he would deliver. She could hear him now “Laney-girl you know you shouldn’t be here. Who did you come with? How are you getting home? Does your daddy know you are here?”
The words she knew he would have delivered if they hadn’t caught in his throat as his gaze finally fell on her.
She was proud of the results an all day make-over session had achieved. Gone were the trainers, jeans and old t-shirt with a long forgotten band on it. Her short brown hair was feathered around her face framing it like a picture, or so her sister-in-law had said when she had finished working her magic. Her pale complexion was enhanced with make-up that highlighted her ice blue eyes; the only real colour was the cherry red staining on her lips.
Laney watched as Heath’s eyes stroked down her face to her body and the sinfully tight dress she had poured herself into. The dress was strapless, tight, short and slit up the right side almost to the waist. She watched him swallow hard, take a deep breath then growl low and deep.
“Evening Heath,” She smiled up at him. His eyes narrowed as he looked back into her eyes. Laney willed her legs not to tremble as he took a step closer to her.
“Do you have a coat?” He asked in a low whisper. Laney swallowed hard, she had expected interest, perhaps lust but he just seemed to be angry, really angry if the vain throbbing on the side of his temple was anything to go by.
“No.” Laney shook her head.
“Good, we are leaving now.” Heath took hold of her arm and started to pull her towards the doors. Laney was in shock until the night air hit her body. Finally she realised he was pulling her towards his car.
“Whoa buddy.” Laney dug her heels in, her four-inch heels not allowing her much stopping power.
Heath didn’t miss a beat as he swung around and unceremoniously threw her over his shoulder.
“Put me down!” Laney yelled as she tried to keep the skirt of her short dress covering her butt.
“You want down? Fine!” Heath said as he dropped her back on her feet.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Laney asked as she pulled her dress back into place. She let out a squeak as Heath dropped his leather jacket around her shoulders.
“Not a thing.” Heath pulled the collar of his jacket closed around her. Leaning down he looked into her eyes. “Who is he?” he asked softly.
Laney looked back; she could see the caged animal just under the surface.
“Who is who?” Laney was confused, this sure as hell wasn’t going as she had thought. Right about now Heath should be sweeping her into his arms and kissing her until she couldn’t remember her own name.
“The guy you got dressed up for. Who is he?” Heath asked.
“You think I got dressed up for some other guy?” Laney was confused, how could he think that? Surely he knew he was the only one she was interested in.
“I promise Laney I won’t hurt him I just want to talk to him.” Heath assured her.
Laney’s nerves hit her full force, what if he didn’t want her? Clearly he had to know she wanted him, had wanted him from the second he had moved into the area.
Taking a deep breath Laney decided it was now or never. Leaning just a few inches forwards she kissed him. Not a modest peek on the cheek she had given him in the past, but a full on no holds barred kiss of a woman who knew what she wanted and exactly how to get it.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Return to sender!

So people did you miss me? What do you mean you didn't even know I was gone?Well that's just RUDE!!!

I will have you know I was in Canada, Land of Mounties, Maple Syrup and Tornadoes. Yep that's right I said Tornadoes but I will get to that later. But first off this is the only Mountie I met .......not that talkative but you know nice enough.

Flew out first to Montreal, have to save the place has a really cool old school French feel to it, not surprising considering the first language of the place is French.
Moved on to Toronto, which was my favorite city, had a very London/New York feel about it and you all know you can take the girl out of the city but not the city out of the girl. 

Both cities have this really cool underground shopping mall section but Toronto's is huge, think more than half a dozen shopping malls all joined by underground walkways spread out. It is huge and as the hotels are all linked to them you could effectively never see the light of day. 

Now the weather was fair, a little rainy on some days but not bad until the day we went to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame......looked out of the window saw crazy wind and rain and being Londoners we just tutted and carried on.....next day found out we had been hit by a small tornado....my first tornado!! We lived but I guess you got that from me writing this and not you know being dead!

Second near death experience of the holiday happened on the flight between Montreal and Toronto.....when the plane lost altitude really suddenly, so quickly in fact we hoovered, yes that's right HOOVERED out of our chairs for a few seconds.....heart stopping I can tell you! I won't even get into the minibus fighting the winds and nearly swerving off of the road or the bridge!! Yep all in all a really good holiday!

To top it all I was able to reflect on my current wip, Leashed by a Wolf, and how I want to carry the story. I am a city girl and currently this story seems to be set in a small town and they always say write what you know (not that I  know many shifters it has to be said) so with some juggling I will have to move it to a city somewhere, because I really know nothing about country living.

I tried before I went away to enter the HQN Nocturne pitch but wasn't successful, which is fine because I really think this story is a little too certificate 18 for them to be honest but the open call at Liquid Silver I mentioned last time is still open so maybe I will focus on that and see where it takes me or not as the case may be.

Oh shout out to my girls Doris who is yet another step closer to getting signed for one of her fab stories and Karin who pitched to the HQN Medical line and was asked to send her ms to them and finally to Alyssa Fox whose first book is out this week! Link to the right people! BUY IT!

I still can't believe you lot didn't notice I was gone...SNIFF SNIFF.......Well I AM BACK NOW BABY!  Ready, willing and hopefully able to get on with some real writing! Yeah babu

Its been a crazy few weeks and the next few weeks seem to be heading the same way but that's what makes life interesting if it all just carried on same old same old where would the inspiration for your writing come from? See roll with the punches people you never know where it will lead.