Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Kilburn Literary Festival - something for everyone!



The first ever Kilburn Literary Festival is starting this Thursday. There's everything from family friendly writing classes to erotic fiction master classes  to award winning authors to TV and Radio personalities!

You'll find me raving about social media at Develop Your Author Profile - Blog and Tweet your way to Success on Saturday 1st November. I will be squeezing as much practical advice possible in one hour, and sharing with you what I've learnt over six years of blogging and using social media. I'll help you avoid making my mistakes and give you the confidence to get started if you haven't dared dip your toe in already! If you've already got a blog but have lost your blog mojo, I aim to get you excited about it again!


The one hour workshop will cover:
  • Why Blog?
  • Case Studies of Successful Blogs
  • How to create Engaging Content
  • Set up & Design Basics
  • How to use Twitter effectively
  • Case Studies of Successful Twitter users

Couldn't give a monkey's bottom about blogging? No problem! Instead, head over to one of the many other workshops on offer, listen to prose & poetry readings, or show off your literary knowledge at the Pub Quiz on 4th November!




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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Happy Endings In Fiction - Would Opening a Shop be Yours?

Why do so many chic lit novels rely on a shop opening for their happy ending? It always makes me wonder if the author has ever worked in a shop.
            

The other day I had to put a book down because the main character, the owner of a brand new cafe, had just taken her first twenty pounds and wanted to splash out on a celebratory dinner. 

Twenty pounds! I scoffed. Twenty pounds wouldn't even cover the dinner let alone her rent, rates, overheads, stock...

I was brought up in an independent shop. It was hard work and it always felt like we were on the brink of a crisis. Sometimes we'd have a whole week where all we sold was a discounted picture frame and a light bulb. We'd start to think of desperate measures to get the cash flow going. We'd redo the window display, use shoe polish to write a big SALE sign. We didn't have anywhere near the resources chain shop have.    
            
In fiction, opening a shop is much simpler. A business savvy (and gorgeous) bloke will always pop up out of the blue and be moved by the heroine's superior product (chocolate truffles more chocolaty than all the chocolate in Belgium) and want to invest, or at least, help her make a proper business plan. 

But so what if shop-opening-inspired-happy-endings aren't realistic? It's fiction and I love a bit of escapism as much as anyone. Whatsmore my brother seems to be fulfilling his dream by opening a skate shop. Just because it's not my idea of a happy ending, doesn't mean it's not yours. 

But before you open a shop... consider these pros and cons!


PROS AND CONS OF OPENING A SHOP:

THE CONS


1. 
Your Income isn't Guaranteed












2. You Have to Open on Saturdays



3. Customers Know about the Internet













THE PROS 

1. You are the Boss










2. You Can Wear What You Want















3. You can write a blog about working in your shop and then get it published... 

Buy Shop Girl Diaries 

I do still get nostalgic about Saturday afternoons in my shop when the local Salsa addict and my cousin would come around, and we'd drink rum and dance salsa, stopping occasionally to sell and pack up a lamp. Working with my Mum was also hilarious. I couldn't have written Shop Girl Diaries if I hadn't started seeing the funny side of shop life... so, although opening a shop wouldn't be my happy ending, I'm glad I got to be a Shop Girl for a while.  






What about you? Would opening your own shop be your happy ending? 



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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Who said ebook launches can't be fun?

The Temp is out today and you're all invited to the e-launch! The wonderful thing about an elaunch is that it takes much less organisation than a traditional launch and can really stretch that £0 budget!


But just because it's free don't think it's going to be a cheap event! On the contrary,  no expenses have been spared. In fact, this might just be the most glamorous and extravagant launch of the year... the decade even... THE CENTURY!

Can you tell I'm excited? Well, you would be too if you'd secured Buckingham Palace for your book launch!

Come in, come in, you're so very welcome!  Tuck into the eLobster and a fiery e-cocktail and please buy a book on the way out! 


1. THE VENUE 




Since I have the orienteering skills of a broken compass, I've opted for somewhere central and easy to locate! Buckingham Palace is also featured in the novel, so it seems a fitting venue. Don't worry, I know what you're thinking... but I assure you, you won't have to take your shoes off. Instead, you'll be given an option of getting brand new shoes of your choice on arrival OR some royal slippers.     


2. THE BAND




Another wonderful thing about ebook launches, is that you're not limited by time! This 10 man Cuban band is coming back from the 70s just to play for us all. If you were concerned an event at the palace might be stuffy, I hope your fears have been alleviated! In my opinion, there's never enough dancing at book launches and it's time to rectify that! 

3. THE DRINKS 




There is an unlimited supply of some of the fanciest eCocktails in the world! There's also some unfancy ones if you're not into getting your face burnt off while drinking. You can drink as much as you like for free and you don't have to worry about  getting a hangover!  Oh, and obviously all the waiters are stunning.   






4. THE FOOD 


Only the best food for my guests! There is a mouthwatering variety of dishes and no chance of anyone leaving the launch hungry. What's incredible is that these eLobsters are even suitable for vegans! It's all very ethical and eco, and despite the sheer quantity of food and options available, there's absolutely no waste. What are you waiting for? Tuck in!
  


5. THE PARTY 


Why do book launches finish so early? After working for years on a book, I don't want a sober little event that finishes at 9pm. Sod that, I say. My elaunch is a proper party which finishes when you're ready to go. There's a dance floor for the dancers, balconies for the smokers, libraries for the introverts, and a secret garden for the smooching guests who have just bumped into the person of their dreams! So let your hair down and have some fun! 



Thank you so much for coming! 
Please buy a copy of The Temp on your way out! 




And below, film footage from the Launch!




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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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