Saturday, 18 October 2014

Manage the Nanowrimo Madness to Suit You!


Right now thousands of authors worldwide are gearing themselves up for a ferocious writing marathon. November is National Novel Writing Month and the challenge is to write 50,000 words in one month.

This would be almost reasonable if all the participants were locked in a wifi-free shed with just their laptop, an espresso machine and a treadmill to get the oxygen flowing back to the brain when writers block kicked in.

The reality is they will be fitting this epic number of words into their normal lives, with families, full time jobs, dogs needing to be walked and houses needing to be maintained. They will fight against time and tiredness, they will forgo nights out (or write through the hangovers), they will do whatever it takes to deliver on the challenge!

Why? 

BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL CRAZY

... about writing.

I'm excited even though I'm not going to do it. If I wrote that quickly I know I'd only have to throw most of it away. My other excuse is that I've already got my novel written, I just need to edit the monster. So instead I plan to get up an hour earlier each day during November to work on it. 

I'm a big believer in setting manageable goals. Too many people set themselves up for defeat by proposing impossible targets, and then get frustrated and feel like a failure. If you don't think you can write 50,000, why not aim for half of it? Or 100 words each day? It's still valuable!

So, 6am it is. That's probably a normal waking hour for many of you but for me it'll be a good but doable challenge.

Still wondering how anyone can write 50,000 words in one month?

4 Nanowrimo participants kindly share their tips:


1. PUT PRESSURE ON YOURSELF BY TELLING EVERYONE YOU'RE DOING IT


2. DON'T EAT OR SLEEP


3. JUST GET ON WITH IT

4. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE HOUSE WORK

  

Are you taking part in Nanowrimo? Share your method in the comments!


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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What to do when your book gets a 1 star review

I got a one star review on Amazon yesterday for Part One of The TempIt caught me off guard. I was at the osteopathic clinic where I work part-time and I'd been about to show a friendly patient my book cover. That's when I saw it. 

'A load of waffle' - the reviewer had written.
            
I felt suddenly embarrassed to show the lady the webpage.

Momentarily subdued, I blamed my cold. A one star review and a bad cold all on the same day. I felt like my face was melting and I'd just been punched.  
             
It's inevitable. I'd been expecting it. As soon as you put yourself out there, people are going to judge.

          The inner voices started up at once:
           
            But don't they realise how hard I've worked to get here?
            It's not personal Emily.
            It was a free sample! They should have given it another star for being free!
            It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.  
            But it does what it says on the tin.
            Some people are going to hate it.
            Can't I get a star for correct spelling?
            There's bound to be a typo in it somewhere.
            I spelt my name right!
            Benet? It really looks like there's a letter missing somewhere...
           
It's not a big deal really. It's only one little review on a very short section of my book. If I ever need an ego boost I've got a whole Happy Folder of Wattpad comments I've saved. They're there in case the doubts ambush me.   
            
I've got another trick too. I've just discovered it. What really makes a one star pale into insignificance is checking out the one star reviews of your favourite books.

Go on, do it.That's when it hits you how subjective it all is.

Stephen King's 11.22.63, a book I daydreamed about for days after I'd finished it, is 'contrived nonsense', my beloved Starter for Ten is 'pretentious juvenile tripe',  Donna Tartt's The Secret History, which reeled me into its dark clutches and hypnotised me, is 'a waste of time'. The Husband's Secret is 'rubbish', though personally I couldn't put it down. I could go on forever. 

Just for laughs I checked out reviews for some classics. Poor Charles Dickens gets a one star by someone who then comments, 'I can't comment yet because I haven't read it.' O-kay.     

There are books for every taste and as long as there are enough people who like reading mine I'll keep on writing! If you're a writer, I advise you to do the same!

               


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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tweet to Win: £50 Voucher to The Remedy Bar

* Competition alert*


You say tomato, I say Zomato

What colour is a Zomato? 

No, it's not a fruit, but an excellent restaurant finder used by over 25 million foodies a month! 

The best bit is they are giving away a £50 voucher for The Remedy Wine Bar to celebrate the release of my novel, The Temp. All you have to do is head to Twitter and tweet the following (copy and paste!): 

WIN A £50 voucher for @TheRemedyLondon wine bar! To enter just RT & follow @zomato & @emilybenet #thetempzomato #zomp http://amzn.to/1tZhIn0

Don't forget to follow @zomato and @emilybenet so we can register your entry!

If you're not on Twitter, just ask a friend who is! But make sure the friend is:

a) someone who will share the prize
b) someone who you want to share a bottle of wine with

Thanks to Zomato I was able to check out The Remedy Bar. If you're anything like me, and happiness involves the following ingredients:

1. Wine
2. Olives
2. Cheese
4. Cured Ham
5. Sunshine

...well, part from the sunshine, which no one can guarantee, you are going to love it!

So, get tweeting! Good luck! 

Terms and Conditions

The competition runs from 08.00 on 08/10/14 until 16.00 on 10/10/14
The winner will be announced on Sunday 11th October
Voucher expires 30th November 2014.

Zomato has been called the facebook for foodies and has a great app for your phone. For more information visit their website www.zomato.com








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Friday, 3 October 2014

The Honest List: Books that Made a Great Impression

Have you ever been tagged in that Facebook post about the books that made the greatest impression on you? It's the one where a person writes a list of their chosen books, tags you, and then you have to write yours.

Well I confess I've been very rude. Despite being tagged by several lovely people, I have never once obliged. Instead I've scanned over their lists, felt slightly insecure and then ignored them. 

Is it me, or does everyone's list tend to sound like the GCSE or A Level English syllabus? You know, a bit, dare I say it, worthy?

A typical list looks a bit like this:

Anna Karenina
Of Mice and Men
Jane Eyre
The Great Gatsby
Wuthering Heights
Sense and Sensibility
Great Expectations
The Lord of the Flies
1984
Macbeth

I just can't help wondering, did they really leave the greatest impression? Or are they just the books people think should have left the greatest impression?

I'm not saying they aren't excellent works of literature, but for me, they just weren't life changing.  

On that note, I have decided to finally compile my own list. The following are the books that really made an impression, and in most cases I can prove why:

1. MALORY TOWERS  - Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton was the author responsible for getting me excited about reading. I read Famous Five and then Mallory Towers so hungrily.  

The other day I walked into a book shop and was really shocked to find three shelves packed with her books. These books were first published in the 1940s! I'm a reading helper in a local school and I just can't imagine my 9 year old kids reading lines like, "Don't be so jolly inquisitive!" and "Hilda, you never wrote to me in the hols you mean pig!"

Proof it made a great impression: Okay, I don't have concrete proof. But I did just get really excited and nostalgic when I saw this old cover.



2. The REDWALL Series - Brian Jacques   


This was an epic fantasy series set in a world of talking animals. The first book was published in 1986, How I remember it, it was like Lord of the Rings, where the hobbits were field mice, the good men were badgers and the Orcs were rats.
  
Proof it made a great impression: It inspired me to write my own version, which was the first complete novel I ever wrote. You can compare beginnings to verify its influence on me:

Redwall: The first mice had built the Abbey of red sandstone quarried from the pits many miles away in the north east.

Dandelion Abbey (my book - aged 11): Dandelion Abbey stood strong and steady on her neat rows of reddish stone. It had two iron gates, beautifully designed by Maiya Goodfound, an ancient mouse who had died a long time ago.


3. POINT HORROR Series 


These were the first books I remember buying on my own. They were really American and all the guys were either called Jake or Jason, and there was always some bitchy girl who got murdered. These books weren't approved of in my school, which made buying them all the more exciting.

Proof it made a great impression: Seeing the old book covers again took me straight back in time. I had to do extra maths after school one evening, and on my way, I remember stopping at WHSmith to choose a book. 

The point horror series also inspired me to write my own version called: Evil Eyes. This is an excerpt from that book with original spelling- aged 12: 

"Hallo Nancy"
"Don't try scare me, man, I'm tougher than you think I'm not gona go to my grave by a weed like you,' Nancy said, her tone was confident.
"Huh, same hear, how do you think I killed Joanna? And Miss James? And Janat?"
"You did not kill Joanna. Megan did."
"Huh, she did not. I did it through Megan."

They say good books feed good writing... so we know what went wrong here!  

4. GOOD NIGHT MR TOM -  Michelle Magorian

 
While in my local primary school, I noticed a teacher holding a copy of this book. My first reaction was to feel sorry for the kids that had to read it. It was the first book that really broke my heart.   

But then I argued with myself that it's a great thing to be moved like that. And it wasn't all sad. Mr Tom was my hero. He was such a warm, wonderful character.

Proof it made a great impression: I named my pet gerbil Mr Tom.




5. STARTER FOR TEN - David Nicholls

This is quite possibly the only book I've ever read more than once. I think I've read it five times. I think it's hilarious. 

This is the beginning of one of my favourite sections:

"At 2,360 yards, or 2.158 kilometres, Southend pier is officially the longest pier in the world. This is probably a bit too long, to be honest, especially when you're carrying a lot of lager. We've got twelve large scans of Skol, sweet-and-sour pork balls, special-fried rice and a portion of chips with curry sauce - flavours from around the world... 

(...) Tone's also had to lug his ghetto-blaster which is the size of a small wardrobe and, it's fair to say, will probably never blast a ghetto, unless you count Shoeburyness..." 


Proof it made a great impression: Just ask me to lend you my copy...

(N.B. Oddly enough, I didn't really like One Day, by the same author. But I'm hoping I'll love Nicholl's new book Us.)


Thank you for reading that self-indulgent list. Now over to you! What books really, really made a great impression?





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Friday, 26 September 2014

7 Completely *Unbiased Reasons Why You Should Read The Temp

There are so many books being launched every day and you're probably wondering why you should buy mine. To help you, I've written down some reasons why you should take the leap. As the author, you'll agree that I'm totally unbiased.

1. Obscure Setting 


The novel is set in a little known place called, London. You've probably never heard of it. I'd never heard of it until I checked my location on Google Maps. There must only be a handful of books set in this unusual place. My novel offers free tourism around the city, seeing alternative sites such as Big Ben, The Tower of London and Buckingham Palace.



2. Contains Bananas   

Did you know bananas contain high levels of potassium? 

Of course you did.  It's what your Mum used as an argument to make you eat them. Even though you had no idea what potassium was, you were persuaded, because it sounded a bit like a super power.  

Before you accuse me of false advertising, I'll admit you can't actually eat the bananas in the book. Not because they're fictional, which doesn't help, but because most of them have either been dowsed in bleach or spray painted.  Just read the novel and it'll all make sense.


3. Features Work by *Future Poet Laureate  



Worried my novel might be substandard? 

Don't. There are at least five lines in it which will be brilliant thanks to collaboration from the winner of the Cardiff International Poetry Prize, Isabel Rogers

*I can't guarantee she'll be the future poet laureate, of course... but you may as well buy the book in advance so you can say you'd read her years before she became the chosen one.



4. There's a Human Egg in it! 


Nah, not really! I'm just copying The Sun's sensationalist headline style. Haven't you seen the book cover? It's hardly going to be Sci-Fi.

Egg, or Egbert, is just the main character's flatmate who I'm rather fond of. He's in a re-enactment group and he's self-published the book, It's An Egg Life. Don't google it, I haven't written it for him yet.




5. So they let me write more stuff 

The thing is, if you buy this book, then my publisher will want me to write more books, and if I write more books then I might be able to do this for a proper living one day. 

Please? Look how cute I am!


*False advertising alert*-  I'm not actually a cat.  



6. There's a cute kitten in it 



Disappointed I'm not a cat? 

You'll be heartened to know that The Temp does have a kitten in it. He's called Rupert. It's the first time I've written a cat into a book. Previously I was worried about the hairs interfering with the text. 






7. Cheap as Chips 


I don't know how much chips are in your neck of the woods, but The Temp Part 1 is only 49p and if your local chips are cheaper than that, well, maybe they aren't chips!

If you live in London, then your chips will probably be the same price as the paperback...  



Whatever the price of your chips, or whether bananas improve your mood or not, I just hope that if you decide to buy it, that you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it! 

Thanks for all your support!  
  



Pre-order The Temp







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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Worst Temp Jobs - which one was yours?

Part 1 out on 28th September!
With less than 10 days to go until the launch of TheTemp (Part 1), I'm feeling curious about what are the worst and best temp jobs people have ever done.

One of my least favourite was handing out leaflets at a furniture design fair. My employee's showroom was far away from the main hub and they were desperate for me to send potential customers their way. Worried I would throw the leaflets away instead of giving them out, they insisted I take photographic evidence that I'd done my job. In other words, I had to ask random strangers if I could take their picture with my leaflet. It was awkward for everyone. 

I also dressed up as a huge fluffy bear once. But I'm not sure I'm allowed to talk about that, in case kids read this and realise the character wasn't real. 

So I put this question to Twitter:

Thanks to everyone who replied, I'm sorry I couldn't include them all. Here are just some of them!


1. The Greasy One


2. The Factory Line One 


3. The No Talking One



4. The Smelly One 




 5. The Old-School One


6. The Rock n' Roll One  


7. The Classic Blueberries and Bear Poo One 


8.   The Mind-Numbing Ones





9. The Seasonal, Boozy One 


10. The One that sounds a bit like a Black Comedy



11. The Physically Challenging One


 12.  The AbFab One




13. The One with a Happy Ending! 


What about you? Go ahead and share your Temp job experience in the comments section! 





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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Rolling from Barcelona to London

I've just spent 6 brilliant days with my brother in Barcelona. Three months ago he and his friend, Joan, opened a skate shop there.

By the time he was sixteen, my brother was already a fearless aggressive in line skater, the type who grinds hand rails and jumps off roofs. I would follow him around, wishing I was as brave. Instead I'd end up with bruises on my shins from jumping at curbs instead of on them. 

That was a long time ago though and it had been years since I last skated.

As soon as I landed, my brother lent me a pair of skates and was a very considerate guide on my first trip to his shop. 

On day 2 I successfully completed the journey alone, arriving at his shop with a big grin on my face. Only trouble was, the groovy pink skates hurt my ankles. My brother, thrilled I was skating, let me test out another pair. Those gave me blisters. 
          
"I guess I'll have to miss the night skate then," I said. The night skate began at ten and went all through the city. 

Joan,  one of the most encouraging and upbeat person I've ever met, wouldn't even consider it. He ordered me to get some Compeed plasters and test a third pair of skates. I felt a twinge of pain from the previous blisters, but then my brother added four flashing wheels to my skates, and the pain was replaced with child-like excitement!


          
That night, skating through Barcelona, I fell in love with those skates. I fell in love with skating.  
          
"I'll give you them if you use them," my brother said.
          
I thought of London. I thought of wet streets, cobblestones and lots of pedestrians.
          
"I'll skate to work," I said, the beer encouraging me to believe it. "I can do this..."
          
I dreamt of the journey to my part-time job from North London to West London. I'd run it before in an hour and a half. I visualised skating the same route in my mind. I tried to remember the terrain. Could I do it?
          
My flight back coincided with rush hour on the tube. I was jostled in between sweating, sullen commuters all wishing they were somewhere else. I thought of my skates in my bag and felt that tug of nervous excitement in my stomach. I had to skate from work tomorrow, before the fear persuaded me not to.
          
Today I skated back from work.
          
I slowly weaved in between the pedestrians, feeling a control in my legs I'd rediscovered in Barcelona. The roads were smoother than I'd anticipated and soon I was gliding confidently towards home. There were a few hairy moments: braking on slopes, traffic crossings (also on a slopes), blind bumps, cobble stones... but mostly, it felt liberating!
          
I didn't beat my tube time. At an hour exactly, I was ten minutes out, but at least I wasn't pushed and squashed between sticky armpits. I felt healthy, strong and happy!

I've always been a bit of a grass is greener person, and I often think of Barcelona with dreamy nostalgia. It's a better quality of life, I think, imagining everyone outdoors in the sunshine. 

But today, skating towards Regent's Park, I felt, well, that maybe it's just about making different lifestyle choices and having the courage to follow those choices through. It's what you make of where you live... that, and having people in your life, who won't let you be a chicken, who push you to do things you know, deep down, you can do.





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