Saturday, 1 August 2009

Writers' block? No. Writers' panic? YES

Cut Short on amazon.co.uk


also now on amazon.com



I've been working, on and off, on Road Closed, the second book in the Geraldine Steel series. I've been happily travelling around, visiting reading and writing groups, and meeting people in book shops (still maintaining an average sale of 44 books at a signing). Staff in the bookshops are friendly, and the readers writers I've met have been really lovely. And all the while, the elephant has been in the room, lurking in the shadows . . .


Someone asked me recently if I feel any pressure having to live up to Cut Short with the next book. "No," I answered cheerfully. "I'm really enjoying writing it." That was absolutely true at the time. But the day approaches . . . Soon, I'll have to show my new MS to my publisher . . . my editor . . . readers . . .


I'm in a complete panic! No one has seen one word of the new MS. Should I show it to my family or just send it to my publisher and hope for the best? What if no one likes it? Help help help! (That's the sound of me panicking). As for my blase reply to the question about feeling under pressure - I wasn't feeling stressed then. I am now. Oh help!

38 comments:

Debs said...

Having read Cut Short, I'm sure your next book will be wonderful.

Glad the book signings are going so well too.

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you, Debs. Like I said, I've come across some very nice people!

Mel said...

I am sure you will be fine, you have a strong set of characters and a naturally fluid style of writing!

Good strong sales, well done!

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, Mel, but right now no one seems to be buying Cut Short on amazon (sigh). It had a good day yesterday, though, so thank you to everyone who ordered it yesterday and I hope you enjoy it!

Now must get back to Road Closed...

Charles Gramlich said...

I imagine that's a pretty common feeling. You have your whole life to write your first book, and a lot less time to write your second. But you learn a lot in that first one for sure. Having signings with so many folks will really help the publisher want your next book though!

Leigh Russell said...

I've certainly learned a lot, Charles. This is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. Wouldn't have missed it for the world though!

Middle Ditch said...

Did your husband read Cut Short before it went?
If he did let him read it.

I don't envy you to be in such a position. Pressure, pressure.

It was lovely meeting you.

Leigh Russell said...

Yes, my husband's read Cut Short and he enjoyed it. He even turned the cricket off on the telly - a real compliment.

It is pressure, pressure, but I have to say I'm enjoying it. Loving every minute of it - except when I see Cut Short going down amazon sales ratings...

Godinla said...

You're living the dream. I know the panic but not for the same reasons. I'm unpublished and panicked because I think I'll die before I get "discovered." I pray daily for an agent.

I'm glad that you happened upon my blog and it's interesting that you found me on a day/week that I was posting crime drama. It's not what I generally write. II'm sort of all over the place. I'm one of those people that has a muse with no sense of direction. I don't consider myself a novelist, though I have written a novel (and a follow up novelette). Guess what they are about - yep, crime drama. Life is strange.

Anyway, you've started this odd ball rolling. I will be checking in here and I will be looking into Cut Short. Can't read it now because I'm writing a screenplay and I can't read while I write.

Thanks again for finding me.

Leigh Russell said...

Good luck with the screen play, Godinla!

PI said...

If your family have been helpful in the past fine - otherwise cut to the quick and send it to the publisher.
You've got form and should enjoy what you have achieved.
I on the other hand have just lost my first publisher.

Leigh Russell said...

How did you lose your publisher, PI? I'm coming over to your blog to see what's happening with you.

PI said...

Leigh: I'm not writing about it on my blog. Yet. I've emailed you.

dabrah said...

I'm about one-quarter way through Cut Short and really enjoying it. You definitely have a way with words, so I wouldn't worry about how the next book will go down ... very smoothly I would think. Congratulations on a brilliant book!

Osnat said...

From what I can gather (and remember), you idly sent off a manuscript of 25,000 words to the publisher's and got a book deal. Therefore, don't fret so much about your sequel (but a good deal of anxiety is always a good idea in my opinion...).

Anyway, I am now going to waste about five minutes of your life with a review of Cut Short. I managed to finish it in about 3 hours, just so you know, and I found it very entertaining and well-written on the whole; the characters were engaging and the rapid plotline switches kept me reading. I also liked the use of short chapters and the way you used a good few angles on the story. Some random offtopicness now: I liked the snark at "stranger danger"; it reminded me of how everyone keeps so much stuff rattling around in their brains, and I enjoyed recognising little bits of you in Geraldine Steel and Heather Spencer. Did you name Father Bembridge after Mr Bembridge or am I seeing things that aren't there?

Now I need to offer some obligatory criticisms. The Kmart Realism in "Sophie" rears its head once, never appears again, and is generally not pulled off well. I would have preferred that edited out, as it adds nothing to the story for me (seriously, how many people know Amtico? If everyone else considers Amtico the gold standard of tiles or whatever, I will gladly retract this comment). There are also a few instances of ugly office terms that I feel have no place in the story, and when Geraldine speculates that Arthur can't get into her flat (was the use of "access" instead of "get into" a product of your loathing for the verb "get"?), you as an English teacher and writer should know that that should set up a break-in. It's annoying when it doesn't, and if you really wanted to avoid a cliché you could have taken the offending line out or reworked it so it sits more subtly somehow. Finally, I feel that you left too many plot threads hanging (well, only two actually), although maybe that's just me being old-fashioned or you leaving room for the sequel. If it's the latter I would be extremely disappointed as I would think you were milking your series. I don't know how it works in crime fiction, but I've been advised that sequels are normally of poorer quality than the originals and/or an opportunity to make more money/internets/kudos out of the franchise (I'm counting fanfiction here as well), so I don't like them very much...hopefully Road Closed will be good though. I can sincerely say I'm looking forward to reading it and posting my comments here.

Overall? A gripping book with hyperreal characters and few flaws (apologies for the journalistic/advertisment-like language). You can now hold your head up in front of your pupils.

Akasha Savage said...

You're now feeling the stress and pressure of a 'proper' writer. Enjoy it.

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you, dabrah, I'm glad you're enjoying it! Keep me posted.

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Osnat - thank you very much for taking the time to write a review here. I'm very pleased, and relieved, that you enjoyed it. I do tend to avoid the work 'get' - you're right about that. As for the name Bembridge, that was inadvertant, but I don't think I'm going to live that down. I didn't leave any loose ends for Book 2 - I didn't have a series in mind when I wrote Cut Short. I never even envisaged having one book published.
I've been working on Road Closed. I think I have a better idea about constructing a book so hope it will fit together more coherently, but as to whether it works or not, I have no idea. I'm pleased iwth it, but I'm not sure it's possible to judge your own work while writing it. I'm probably too involverd with it to say. I'm enjoying the writing anyway.

Leigh Russell said...

I am enjoying it, Akasha! I'm an author!!

Leigh Russell said...

ps Osnat - so much in life is a question of where you draw the line, but I'm not sure that 'a good deal of anxiety is always a good idea'. A little anxietyfeel miserable.

Leigh Russell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leigh Russell said...

ps Osnat - I'm not sure I agree that 'a good deal of anxiety is always a good idea.' A little anxiety is useful but a good deal will probably make you miserable. As with so much in life, it's a question of where you draw the line.

Eryl Shields said...

Trust your own judgment, Leigh, it stood you in good stead last time. You are a real author now.

I_am_Tulsa said...

Oh, please don't panic, everything will be just fine!
BTW...
I got your book today!!!! I'll try to send you a picture soon but I want to take it in a very "Japanese" place...so please give me a few days to ponder...

Leigh Russell said...

Not as exciting as it sounds, Eryl, as I watch the sales ratings on amazon go down... why isn't anyone buying my book? (Answer - because it doesn't have a huge marketing budget promoting it...) It doesn't help to know that it's doing well, considering... If only everyone who's bought Cut Short so far would persuade just one friend to order it from amazon (where the price has been further reduced) or order a copy for a friend, the sales would miraculously double! The trouble, as with everything else, is that the individual author is up against the blockbusters, able to spend more on promotion than most us earn in a year. It's the same, sadly, for all the arts. And yes, I am feeling a bit dejected about it. I'd better get back to writing and forget about the real world for a while before I get too depressed!

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you I_am_Tulsa. I can't wait!

Maddy said...

Now that does sound stressful! Joking apart, I do love 'who dunnits.' May you'd like to read one of my other book reviews on my main webpage and see if that's the kind of thing you're looking for or it's a bit too edgy?
Cheers

Maddy said...

No email on your profile....so I'm just curious as to how you bumped into my site? Special education maybe?
Cheers

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Maddy - may be edgy, definitely honest, which is great. I came across into your blog via someone else (sorry, I can't remember who - it would be someone who comments on my blog). I stopped to look as I found your blog very interesting.

Leigh Russell said...

Now I've put a link to amazon on my blog, no one's buying from amazon any more. That's so typical. Just when I get myself organised! Maybe I should delete the link...

Leigh Russell said...

Now I've put a link to amazon on my blog, no one's buying from amazon any more. That's so typical. Just when I get myself organised! Maybe I should delete the link...

Leigh Russell said...

When I wrote 'no one's buying from amazon any more' I meant no one's buying Cut Short from amazon any more.

Rick said...

Hi Leigh!

I vote for sending it straight to the publisher. It's like riding a bike... sort of...

Leigh Russell said...

Is this too public a forum to admit I can't ride a bike, Rick...

fizzycat said...

I liked the sense of realism in Cut Short. Just think what Geraldine Steel would say about your nerves, I'm sure she would reassure you.

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, fizzycat. I do try to make my writing plausible, because I think it's more frightening and engaging if it feels as though the story could really happen. I'm glad you saw Geraldine as a kind character. She's definitely growing on me as I'm writing Book 2(Road Closed).

kj said...

hello leigh, i've come to you from blogland lane. we'd be happy to have you move in with the rest of us artists and writers and energetic interesting people! blogland lane is new and we're excited already. you can find out more through my blog
karenjasper.blogspot.com

or just stop by the blogland lane blog.


so you've published your first book? me too! congratuations. i want to come back here and linger when time opens up abit.

xo
kj

Leigh Russell said...

You're welcome any time, neighbour.