Marriage Unarranged, Marriage Unarranged Blog Tour, My Writing Journey

Blog Tour Ready!

Wait, what?

How did that happen?

It feels like only days ago, I was thinking this book would never get published, and now, it’s happening, and in a week, on Sunday the 9th February, 2020, my book baby will finally be delivered!

It’s been a wonderfully crazy lead up to this stage, and the Blog Tour starts tomorrow too, so I’ll be sure to share the posts on here in case you miss them.

This week has been emotional for a few reasons. Happy emotional, that is.

I have had some lovely words sent to me, from an advanced reader, that brought tears to my eyes.

That kind of encouragement really keeps a writer going.

Then I found out that I had my first review on Goodreads! And it was five star! More tears!

And my cover has been entered into this week’s Author Shout Cover Wars. If you fancy voting for my cover, please, click here – Author Shout Cover Wars – to support this little Indie Author! How awesome would it be to win that accolade on the day of publication?

I have been told I really need to get writing on that sequel, and I know I do, too. The ideas are brimming, but my exhaustion has kicked in again so I find myself drifting off, whenever I have spare time, rather than writing. So, I treated myself to a new MacBook Air skin and keyboard overlay. Something cute and pretty. And it has really made me want to get back to it again!

Whaddya think? Pretty, huh?

Right, before I fall asleep again, let me remind you of the Blog Tour schedule, and I’ll be back with regular updates on the posts!

Seven days and counting, EEEEK!

To pre order the Kindle version, click here. The Paperback will be available from the publication day too.

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

Tweaks And Things – You Can Always Make It Better

So, I have my book baby in my hand.

It’s been read, reread, checked and checked again.

No room, or chance for error, right?

Wrong.

I received a (much appreciated) email from a reviewer, alerting me to a couple of missed punctuation marks and silly niggly spelling errors. She is aware of how much this book means to me, and knows how I want to put as perfect a version out there, as possible.

But how is this possible? As I said before, I read and reread countless times!

The problem is that I am too close to the story. No matter now much I read it, I gloss over bits, so end up missing thoes niggles.

I requested ideas from my main writing support group on Facebook (details below) and was given some great ideas:

  • read using a ruler so the next lines can’t distract you
  • read backwards, either from the bottom of a page up, or even from the end of the book to the beginning
  • read it out aloud in a monotone voice (impossible for me, as I am one of nature’s storytellers, and when I read aloud, I have to use expression, and accents – ask the kids in my class, and my colleagues), or
  • use a narrator facility available on most word processers like Word, and even Siri on your MacBook. Hearing your typed words spoken, can help to pick up certain discrepancies

These, along with the help of a proofreader friend of mine, allowed me to pinpoint some silly errors that grammar and spelling software would miss. Continuity errors were caught by said friend too.

Finally, I have a tweaked, polished proof, all uploaded again, and squeaky clean (well, almost. There might be a few naughty bits, but then, romance needs a teensy bit of sauce to, doesn’t it?)

And I have been busy writing content for some of the Blog Tour posts. All the bloggers I approached, have responded, and I officially have a tour planned! Next step – create the Blog Tour Banner!

I even arranged for my first book merchandise – a bookmark!

Another thing I did, was experiment with pens. Now, if you know anything about me, (and most writers), you’ll know that I am a stationery addict. I can never have enough pens or notebooks, and all the other stationery inbetween! I convinced myself that I need a special type of pen for signing my book. I am a bit specific. I love purple. My fountain pen has a bottle of purple ink that I use to fill it with. But, the ink bleeds on the paper in my book, so it’s not perfect for signing. And then, Amazon did this…

Okay, so Amazon didn’t actually do it, it was me. But think of me as the addict, and Amazon as the dealer. I have enough purple pens to experiment with, and to write with for a good long time now! Can’t say “I can’t find a pen!” now.

And then I did another thing. I mentioned a Facebook group a little earlier in the post. The group is run by our very own Sacha Black, and is called 13 Steps to Evil – Villain Masters. This group have been huge in helping me along with the last few months of my journey to getting published. From weekly accountability threads, a safe place to ask questions and get advice, writing prompts, and timely funny writer/villainous memes, to genuine friendships – I have found my writer people! Now, Sacha not only writes amazing fiction, superb writing guides and informative blog posts, but she has also started a podcast called The Rebel Author Podcast. I’ve listened to most of the episodes, and read the transripts of all. So good – I highly recommend. She’s already had some great guests, and it’s only ten episodes old! Well, now she’s branched out into her very own merchandise, and I just had to get my hands on some.

Here I am with my large mug, slouch T-shirt and spiral notebook. I know what I’ll be drinking out of, whenever I write now! Today’s Chai Latte tasted great! And if you want to check out her merchandise shop, click here.

Oh, and something absolutely amazing happened today. Someone I don’t even know posted my book and the preorder link on a Romance Facebook group. I am speechless!

Right, I must get back to that Blog Tour content, but I’ll be back soon, with a banner giving all the dates and details.

And, what are you waiting for? You know you want to put your order in!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

New Year, New Book. What Next?

Well, I can’t quite believe it. Here we are, finally in 2020. A new decade too.

And this is the year I will officially become a published author!

Pub Day is not far off, around 6 weeks, and the nerves are jangling like crazy.

In my last post, I announced the offical publication date, of 9th February 2020, and it felt like an age away. But time has a habit of running away with you, when you have something lined up, doesn’t it?

So, I have my book, officially on preorder, kindle version, and the paperback to be available from the publication date. Right here – getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

There was a slight kerfuffle with the cover. Somehow, even using all the information KDP give an author and cover designer, the first wraparound, or print cover, fell short by 0.088mm! And it all makes a difference, so after tweaking, and resubmitting, we finally got the measurements right.

I was so excited. This meant I could order a proof copy, and finally see what my book baby would look and feel like in a reader’s hands.

Then I pressed Publish Now, instead of Save.

I woke in the morning to an email from Amazon KDP congratulating me on my new live paperback!

Eeeek!

No!

That wasn’t meant to happen!

Thankfully it had only been live for minutes, so I managed to ‘unpublish’ it and order my proof…

It came, yesterday, on the 31st of December. What a wonderful present 2019 gave me, on it’s way out.

Here she is! 🥰

I sat, stroking it, flicking through the pages. I mean, look at it. It’s a real book! And it’s mine. A lot of time was spent sharing the news on social media, because you have to keep that buzz going, and I have had such lovely comments from people all over the world. (I just hope they buy the book, too!)

Hugging my book baby

But that is not it. There are still a lot of little niggly things that need doing. My next job is to proof read the print copy. I have to make sure there are no errors that have missed my eye in all the other rereads – spelling mistakes or formatting errors. And I’ve been doing the same with the ebook version too.

Ready to proof read!

But, that’s not all.

There is also promotion to do, and I have been contacting and organising a blog tour to coincide with the release. I believe I have got responses from pretty much all the bloggers I approached…now to write content for the posts!

And I have arranged for a social media Book Blitz too, where the cover and blurb will be showcased across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the week preceeding the release. I feel rather pleased with myself, but I’ll be happier when I actually get that content written!

And what of the rest of the year?

Well, there is no time to sit back and rest on my laurels! I still have a life to lead, and I am hoping that you readers might want more, so I have my goals for 2020, writing wise, set out.

2020 Writing Goals

And there you have it!

Wish me luck, my dear Peeps!

getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Described as Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick lit with an Indian twist, and not jsut for chicks, you Chap(patti)s too!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

Of Blurbs, And Other Things

Did you think that writing a book was the hardest part of publishing?

Well, let me tell you, you’d be wrong there.

Yes, writing a story, in excess of 85,000 words, is a mammoth task to undertake, and can take forever (don’t I know it! 🙄) but once you have written all those words, words that can only come from you, as it’s your tale, there is still quite a lot to do.

Skipping the submissions process, if you decide to find an agent and/or publisher, you have to get to grips with things like cover design, formatting, marketing, blurb writing…

Yes, blurb writing.

The hardest thing EVER!

Honestly.

Condensing your whole story into a measly few words, making it engaging, finding a hook – NOT EASY!

And I have been battling with my blurb for the last few weeks, taking to the book shops and online bookstores to research blurbs.

It’s a vast world out there in Blurbia… You have books with two-sentence blurbs. Then there are ones that go one for 300 words, taking a whole back cover up. Some in-between. Some start with a question. Some end with a question.

So, I spent a long time writing various versions, talking to my editor, beta reader team, and a trusted Facebook group, to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Obviously, you end up with some conflicting opinions. Some aren’t familiar with your genre so can’t help as practically as others. But this is when you sometimes have to go with your gut.

A couple of years ago, when I finished the first draft, I came up with a simple blurb. After all the tweaks, and the addition of a couple of sentences, (having added plenty more, then taken them away) I finally have my finished blurb!

Want a read?

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged – ritu bhathal

And, I am pleased to announce, that, as you can see in the above graphic, my book finally has a Publication Date!

9th February 2020

Stick it in your diary, Peeps, or even better, if you fancy, you can click the link below, and pre-order your ebook from Amazon RIGHT NOW!

getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

If you are more of a hard copy reader, then no fear, that will be out on the official publication date too. They don’t allow for pre-orders on paperbacks, unfortunately.

So, there you have it, Peeps.

My journey to becoming a published author is headed in the right direction, and credit where credit is due. You have all been so supportive over the last few years, encouraging me to go for it. Well, I have! So, thank you all!

Bitmoji Image

Please, let me know what you think of the blurb, and if you decide to pre-order, thank you yet again!

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

When It’s Time To Commit #CoverReveal for Marriage Unarranged

Photo Credit Kimberley Farmer. Banner produced on Canva

It’s been a while, and for that, I apologise, my dear readers.

I haven’t been wallowing in a puddle of misery because I got another rejection.

Nothing like that. Unfortunately it has been my health that has held me back from progessing further.

You see, I made a decision to become an Indie Author, and self publish my baby!

And, in order to self publish, there are a few things that need to be done.

  • Finish editing my book – so close, I am just in the throes of discovering my crutch words… cringe-worthy!
  • Sending it to my editor for that final look over
  • Formatting the text for paperback as well as e-book
  • Writing the blurb
  • Writing acknowledgements, etc. for inside the book
  • Setting a publication date
  • Designing a cover

Wait. What?

I actually have an item on the list that I can strike off?

Well, yes, actually, I do!

I have been hiding this for a while as I had my cover designed a few months back by the talented Rom Com author Kirsty McManus, who designs her own covers, and has done for many others too.

And so… drum roll…

May I finally present the cover of my soon to be published novel, Marriage Unarranged!

Oh my goodness, that was really nervewracking.

So, what do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions, my dear reader Peeps!

And I look forward to being able to give you a publication date before long too!

Thank you guys, for all your support. Seriously, you don’t know how much it means to me!

My Writing Journey

No Doesn’t Always Mean No

Credit to Photo by Jessica Lewis. Produced by Canva.

Yup, you guessed it. I heard back from the publishers.

And it wasn’t quite the positive response I had hoped for.

They loved the idea… but felt it wasn’t quite the story concept for them.

not crying

No, I’m not crying.

Why?

Because there’s that age old adage: Every cloud has a silver lining.

Meaning you can find a positive in anything, even the negative, and that is the way I live my life. I’ve taken plenty of knocks in my life, personally and professionally, and I have always found something to feel good about in each situation. The writing game is no different.

Previous to this submission, I submitted to agents, and the ones who read what I had sent were all extremely positive, but not able to offer representation for various reasons. One was really keen but wanted more polish on my then manuscript before considering representation. This was one response I had.

“The world needs your story.”

Agent Feedback

So, it can’t be all bad, can it? But what can I do, going forward?

I know my story isn’t unworthy. The feedback from my beta readers has already told me that. I have a few more tweaks to do, as suggested by a couple of them, which I didn’t implement after submitting to the publisher, as I thought I would let the story rest, whilst they were pondering.

The next decision to make is what I want to do next, publishing wise. Do I want to try submitting to another set of agents/publishers? Or is it time to take that bold Indie step?

I have a list of publishers and agents I could submit to.

But I am much further along the Indie process than I thought, really. I have a prospective cover already. I have the means to format my book. I already have a host of bloggers willing to help promote when the time is right.

One thing I haven’d done is set up a newsletter and built a mailing list, because at this stage, I don’t know what I could send out regularly, to subscribers that would even interest them!

I just need the gumption to do it.

What do you think?

Should I take the plunge and go it alone (with all of you for support, obviously!) or do I try and submit again, chasing the traditionally published dream?

Bitmoji Image

Help a writer out, Peeps!

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

When You’re Still Waiting… What To Do

Waiting.

It’s painful.

Seriously.

I feel like I’m in limbo.

It’s been six weeks (or just over, actually) since I submitted my manuscript to a publication house. They said they aim to reply to all queries within around six weeks.

And in that six weeks, I have started back at school, and felt the most deadening exhaustion ever. I haven’t been able to get creative at all.

But, if I had the right energy levels, what could I be doing? What could any writer be doing?

  • Start thinking of another project to take your mind off the current situation
  • Take a little mental break
  • Read – both fiction and non fiction
  • Take part in little challenges (or big – I signed up to NaNoWriMo this year, but whether I could actually write 50,000 words in November, is anyone’s guess!)
  • Build up your social media audience
  • Consider starting an email newsletter (Still thinking about this…)
  • Read some of your older work – you may see something new in it.

Aside from trying to get my energy back, I have read a lot (when I don’t fall asleep with the book in my hands) and invested in some new craft books to help improve my writing. And I have been looking for my plans for book two and three too.

But honestly, my creativity has taken a real hit with this tiredness. And not hearing back from the publisher yet, has me on edge.

What is keeping me going, keeping me for letting go of my dream, is the encouragement from others who have been with me on this journey. My beta readers, who know what my story is, and one in particular who was so excited to hear that I am planning a couple more stories involving the characters in my first book.

Surely that must mean something, that someone wants to know more about these figments of my imagination?

Hearing back from this publisher in a positive way will be a certain type of validation for me, but if that doesn’t work out, I’ll be heading on that Indie trail, with the confidence that at least 5 out of 5 of the people who read my manuscript enjoyed it and were excited by it.

That’s gotta mean something, right?

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

Playing The Waiting Game

It’s a pretty bit thing, you know, submitting your book baby to agents and publishers.

It was huge enough when I sent my beloved manuscript off to beta readers. But the difference was, I knew I would get some feedback about my story.

When you send your proposal off to an agent or a publisher, you really are heading into the unknown.

I have heard those stories of fledgling authors submitting, and getting the rejection letters or emails, or worse, just not hearing back.

Most reputable agencies will state that they should get back to you within a specific time. But some just don’t. That is scary!

I have had a couple of experiences so far. One agency I contacted, replied with the kind rejection, that they enjoyed my material but wouldn’t be adding me to their list. No real feedback or suggestions, but encouragement to reach out to others.

My #PitMad Pitch

I took part in #PitMad off the cuff in March. (That’s my pitch, up there). If you are unaware, #PitMad is a Twitter pnenomenon in the #WritingCommunity there. Basically, if you have a polished manuscript, ready for possible publication, there are four opportunities in the year where you can write a 280 character pitch for your book, including the relevant hashtags to show genre, and tweet it. Agents use that day to peruse the PitMad hashtag and if they are interested, they like your tweet. No one else is meant to like the tweet. Others can support you by retweeting or commenting. I got one genuine like that time, and contacted the agent, who read my first three chapters and liked it, but felt a little more work was needed before representation could be offered. But she LIKED my ideas. That was encouraging.

Agent Response!

Over the last few months, I was increasingly convinced that I would go Indie and stop chasing that traditional publishing deal. The Beta reader feedback had been very positive. I had a prospective cover. My manuscript was almost ready. I even had a brand new MacBook Air, gifted to me by by Hubby Dearest for my birthday. Perfect for using all that lovely formatting software avaliable to MacOS users, like Vellum…

My Birthday Present

Then, one morning, something clicked in me and I decided to submit my newly polished manuscript again, just once, to a publishing company, Hera Books. They were recommended to me by a debut author, Kiley Dunbar, who has just released her second book with them. When I read her first book, I contacted her through Twitter, and we started chatting. She told me all about the fantastic support she had received from her publisher and how, though they were only digital publishers, there was a wealth of experience within the company. I held back submitting then as in my dream, I am holding a physical copy of my book, not an e-reader…

One day, a tweet pinged up from her, announcing her debut book was being released as a paperback too. Following the success of her ebook, the publisher chose her book as one of two they were pushing for paperback publishing. And then I saw her book on the shelf at a local The Works shop.

There it is!

A paperback! In a shop! That was it. Despite having hit an all time low in my mind, something buoyed me up and I woke up the next morning, read the submission details, collated all the information needed, then pressed send…

The acknowledgment from Hera Books

It’st been just over 2 weeks.

I have 4 more weeks to wait…

I messaged my friend Kiley, to let her know I submitted to her publisher, and she was mega excited for me. She said it would be awesome if I could join the band of ‘Hera Girls’ as she called them. And that made me feel all warm inside.

I’d love to be a ‘Hera Girl’.

But I have to wait…

It’s a good thing we have started back to school now, so I have plenty on my plate to keep my mind off obsessing about time and weeks passing, constantly checking my email for any news. But it is hard playing the waiting game.

Will they like it? Will they hate it?

I’ll just have to throw myself into writing book two… once I’ve got my body and mind back to term-time mentality!

And wait…

Wish me patience, all!

Blog, My Writing Journey

Will They Like My Book?

So, you wrote a book.

Or at least you wrote a story, or a body of text, and you want it to become a book.

What comes next?

Well, you know, from my previous post here, about things getting too much that it’s not just about writing. There is rereading, and rewriting and editing involved that can take a while.

After all that work, have you finally got something worth reading?

I mean, that’s why I write. To be read. You know that. I mentioned it here.

And the only way I know it will be something worthy of a reader’s attention, is by sending it out to a few readers.

Those in the know call these test pilots Beta Readers. Or you can strip it down further and say your first readers, those who will feedback with information as to whether your story is viable, are your Alpha Readers.

Then after rounds of edits and rewrites, come your Beta Readers. They are the ones who will give you the feedback that can take your book from good to great.

Some Beta Readers are there to give you general feedback.

  • Does the story engage the reader?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Any major plot holes?
  • They will give a great general piece of feedback for you to mull over

Some go that bit further:

  • Give more specific feedback about style of writing
  • Point out spelling or grammar errors, or those missed full stops and unneccesary spaces
  • Give detailed notes on every page

All this feedback is great. But what do you do with it all?

Well, having sent my manuscript to five trusted Beta Readers, I am awaiting the full feedback from a couple but I have already had some. Here are a couple of pointers to remember.

  • Wait for all your feedback to come in before making any major changes
  • Check to see whether there are any similarities in the feedback that may highlight an issue that you need to tackle
  • Remember there’s no such thing as bad feedback. If you sent it to the right people, all will be constructive
  • Don’t forget it is one persons opinion
  • Pick and choose what you decide to alter. It is your book, after all
  • Keep positive comments handy to cheer yourself up when things are tough, but don’t forget any negative words. They are there to help you better your work.

These are the comments I have kept to make me feel these last 19 years have been worth it!

I was so down last week, having let editing get to me, so I had a total break from everything for a few days. It helped immensely. I woke up one day feeling so positive about the whole situation that I ended up submitting my manuscript to a publisher. Just like that!

I don’t have my head in the clouds, but if you don’t try, you won’t know, will you?

Now I just have to wait… wait for the rest of the Beta Reader feedback… wait to hear back from the publisher…

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

When It All Gets A Bit Too Much

Writing.

It’s an overwhelming business, you know.

If you ask someone who doesn’t write, their image of a writer at work, would be someone surrounded by books, a computer or paper to hand, tapping on a keyboard, or scribbling ideas down furiously.

Or gazing out of the window at a picturesque writers retread, pencil at the ready for any ispiration that might hit.

Or that other chestnut, the writer taking up a table at the local coffee shop, empty cups strewn across said table, and laptop set up, ready for that literary greatness to fill the screen.

Yes.

That’s it.

That’s exactly how all those books out there came to fruition.

A few hours or days to write or type, and a perfect story is created, ready for publication.

NOT!

The writing journey, along with the subsequent editing process, is an arduous one. And though you may spend a lot of it on your bottom, you use up your mental energy more than you realise.

When I decided to really ramp up the writing of my first draft, I used the month of August in 2017 and created my own mini #RiNoWriMo, as November and #NaNo WriMo is beyond me, what with being a teacher in my other life.

So August, that sacred month for teachers, where you get time off, was sacrificed for my writing.

And write, I did!

But I didn’t know how much writing 2,500+ words a day would take out of me.

I started back to school in September an emotional wreck. Not the best way to start the academic year, I’ll have you know. Although pushing myself to write hit word count goals, it zapped me of any energy, and the ability to function emotionally for a few weeks. Writing had become too much.

And the draft still wasn’t finished. I wondered whether this writing malarkey was really for me?

So when I decided that this August, two years on, would be my month for editing, I had to keep my emotional wellbeing in mind too.

#RiNoEdMo has nearly come to a close, and I have worked my pudgy behind off (not literally, because if I had, that would be wonderful, but I digress…) to go through this manuscript with a fine tooth comb. It took me 10 days to finish the first of my ‘final’ edits.

Once it was off to beta readers, I sat back with a light heart, and one heck of a headache.

That mental tiredness had kicked in. It had officially become too much.

Bitmoji Image

So, I scheduled time for me, time with my children and family, time to read.

And, yes, I have revisited my draft, as and when feedback drips in, tweaking easy bits, but I have put it on the back burner so I can get back into my other life mindset. (I hate to call it real life, because writing is part of my real life too, it’s just my alter-life… By day wife, mother and teacher. By night writer and sleeper.)

One week until school beckons to me. One week to get some of that r’n’r. One week to maybe add a few more tweaks Stop it woman, you are meant to be resting!

I have compiled a list of things I do to help me get that ‘me’ time as well as being as productive as possible, within a short timespan.

  • Take regular breaks and hydrate.
  • Give yourself a time limit for how long you will spend on your manuscript every day.
  • Treat yourself when you reach a goal. A bubble bath, a manicure, a drink…
  • If your head hurts, listen to it, and step away for a while.
  • Always have a good book handy to read as a reward.
  • Plan a day out.
  • Change the scenery around you – write in the garden one day, on your bed on another, take your laptop for a trip to a different place. It’s as refreshing as a break.

All little things, but they do help to keep your wellbeing from sinking, as you swim through the ocean of Getting That Book Out There.

Do you have any other advice for keeping sane while writing and editing?