#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Question 34

Quick blog post for y’all today! Thought I’d tackle the next question in the #AcresofInk challenge. Obviously quite a lot of time has passed since I answered the previous question in this challenge; you can find that post here and the full list of challenge questions here.

34. Your thoughts on… Self-publishing or Traditional publishing?

Thinking about writing

I presume this means what I’d prefer to do with The Mayor once its done. Personally, I’d rather be traditionally published than take my book to market on my own. Why? A couple of reasons:

1) Traditional publishing does a lot of the leg work necessary to get the book to market for you.

So, that includes later-stage editing, copy editing, jacket design, advertising, production and distribution. If you opt to self-publish, you’d have to look for, run due-diligence on and — perhaps most importantly — pay for all that stuff yourself! Of course, if you self-published successfully and did really well, you’d make more money than you would if you’d traditionally published. Plus publishers’ input into all of the above aspects varies from author to author, book to book, meaning you could get published only for your book to perform poorly and you get dropped. So there is that to consider…

Nevertheless, I scarcely have the time and energy to write and edit my book to a submittable state as it is, so I’d really appreciate the team effort!

2) There’s something more validating to me about being picked up by a publisher than me “caving” and opting to publish the book by myself.

Getting picked up means that someone — an agent initially, and then a publisher — felt my book was good enough to want to invest in and sell. Now, objectively speaking, this is ridiculous. Publishing is a business first and foremost, and businesses sniff out what sells, not necessarily what is good. There are tons of incredible self-published books out there (the WOOL omnibus by Hugh Howey, for example — one of my faves, go read it!). Likewise there are also some truly awful books out there that are traditionally published (I shan’t name and shame, just check out my Goodreads for what I like and dislike).

Despite my knowing all this however, I can’t help but hold up being traditionally publication as The Dream. I think it’s a valid dream. Would I self-publish The Mayor if it never got accepted? Maybe. It’d be hard not to feel like a bit of a failure in that instance though. I think I’d be more likely to go away, write another book and try again. Each to their own! I have nothing but admiration for those who self-publish; they’re a lot less lazy than I am.

I fully reserve to change my mind on everything I’ve written above in the future XD

S.E. Berrow

 

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It’s Aliiiiiiiive! S.E. Berrow is back.

itsalive

Well my friends, it has been — as my Texan friends say — a hot minute since I last updated this here blog. Around about half a year ago, I officially went On Hiatus with both my writing and blogging because reality became too much to cope with.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I am now BACK! In fact, I’ve been mentally ‘back’ for a couple of months now — I just haven’t gotten round to telling you about it. Reviving this blog was waaaaaaaaaaay down the priority list, but I have a bit more time and brainspace now, so I want to change that.

Life updates coming your way, bam, bam, bam, bam!


New Digs

At of December 2018, I finally — finally — moved house! Yes, it’s true. I am now living with my boyfriend of 4½ years and our menagerie of animals. The entire moving process was hella stressful, I must say. 1/10, would not recommend.

For the first month or so I feared we’d made a dreadful mistake. Everything was still in boxes, we had no internet or sofas, and it was pretty clear that certain parts of the house weren’t in quite as good nick as we’d initially thought.

Things only got even worse in January when one of our cats — poor, lovely, beautiful Flick — died suddenly and unexpectedly. You’ll recall I did a little teaser post about my imminent return at the beginning of January? Well… that’s why nothing came of it ’til now; Flick’s death really threw us for six.

But! I’m pleased to report we’re now much more settled in our new home and are taking serious steps to improve it even more! Our furbabies are very happy and we all feel much more at home. Hooray!


Writing

It’s official: Draft 2 of The Mayor is underway! As you may have seen from my website’s Compass during the month of April, I took part in Camp Nanowrimo (failed miserably, but whatever) to make headway with it. More than a decade has passed since I wrote the original first draft of The Mayor‘s first half — and whoa boy, it shows — so I’m having to rewrite large chunks. I’m really pleased with the results so far though. I find it very satisfying to compare my terribly worded, awful first draft to my brand new shiny draft. Editing in general is a renowned pain in the arse, but nobody told me how awesome it would feel to make things good, guys!

I don’t think I’ll meet my goal of finishing Draft 2 by the end of this year, but I’m definitely going to try. At the very least, I’m hoping to take part in the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize which ends at midday on the 1st August. 10,000 words? An 800 word synopsis? Adult novel of any genre? Doesn’t have to be completely finished? That’s me! I can do that! Wish me luck!

I have to say, just giving myself something to work towards has been a real motivator, so regardless of how I place in the competition, that alone makes the whole thing worth it.


Fitness

I’m doing Tough Mudder again this year (after deferring from last year), so I need to get fit again. Exercise, much like writing and blogging, had to take a backseat last year in the face of overwhelming depression and anxiety. As such, I’ve taken up running and thus far, have been very disciplined in sticking to it. Hell, I’d actually go so far as to say I’m enjoying it! I’ve got new running shoes, a running belt for keeping my phone in, saw a physio on Friday to check I hadn’t done myself an injury… Oh yeah. I’m taking this very seriously.

I’ve been following the NHS’s Couch to 5K programme, which is excellent, and I have Zombies, Run! ready to go when I finish it. I already feel so much better! My resting heart rate has decreased by 7 bpm in less than a month. I just feel more like myself again.

Need to get myself back up to half-marathon standard. Then I guess I’d better start weight-lifting to tackle those obstacles…


Currently reading: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (second book in The Broken Earth trilogy… go read the first book, The Fifth Season, if you haven’t already; it’s glorious)

Currently listening to: I just finished listening to the excellent Binge Mode: Harry Potter (an analytical podcast covering all 7 books, all 8 films and the wider Potter canon), so now I’m catching up on all the music I’ve missed over the last three months whilst listening to that.

Currently watching: Nothing at the moment. Game of Thrones, I guess? Even though these last couple of seasons have pissed me off royally. I just finished watching Season 4 of Outlander (what a wild ride that was) and Season 8 of Taskmaster starts tonight!


That’s all for now. Phew! It’s good to be back. I’ll post here again very soon and hope not to leave it so long next time! I still intend to finish the #AcresofInk blog challenge and I have a couple of other things cooking over there as well. Watch this space…

Take care!

S.E. Berrow

Peter Connelly’s The Dark Angel Symphony Kickstarter needs your help! @tombraider_DA #TRDarkAngel #TombRaider

Hello, everyone!

I’m still on hiatus, however I’m just dropping by to tell you about an amazing project that I think needs your attention!

Peter Connelly — the amazing composer who worked on the soundtracks for Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider: Chronicles and Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness — has a Kickstarter going at the moment to extend, hone and reimagine the incredible music from those games (Nathan McCree, another Core Design-employed composer, did something similar with The Tomb Raider Suite; orchestrated soundtracks for Tomb Raider‘s I, II and III, and it’s fantastic).

Now just imagine what this, this, or this would sound like completely remastered and incorporated into an entirely new and stunning piece of music… I’m salivating just thinking about it!

Please, if you can spare a few £s and/or ps, please make your way on over to http://kck.st/2P58vMK (or click one of the images below) and pledge to bring this project to life. The Kickstarter has, unfortunately, already failed once, however after it relaunched on November 1st it racked up 55% of its goal in just 24 hours! There’s some amazing stuff up for grabs, including original concept artwork from Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.

Tomb Raider The Dark Angel Symphony Reborn

Please help this project become a reality. It would mean the world to me if you did ♥ Even if you just put a single pound towards it and share it, it would make such a difference. It’s all I want for Christmas, haha.

More information on the website here: https://trdarkangel.com/

Tomb Raider The Dark Angel Symphony

Thanks, guys. I appreciate you probably don’t follow me for this sort of stuff… Normal service to resume shortly (promise!) as house stuff finally seems to be moving along, touchwood.

S.E. Berrow

S.E. Berrow On Hiatus

I’m sorry to announce that due to various life stresses such as house-buying, work and social commitments, I am now officially On Hiatus.

By this, I mean I can no longer fool myself that I have the time, will, or inclination to create. My mind is a hideous, carnival-like hellscape — a carousel of anxiety and despair, going round and round in my head; a house of horrors from which I cannot escape, where the worst possible scenario threatens to jump out at me around every corner.

My mind is so occupied with things that are not writing, that I cannot effectively edit The Mayor: Part One. I cannot churn out even a paragraph for my John novella. I can’t even maintain this blog, missing week after week of the #AcresofInk blog challenge — it’s not acceptable. I fall at every hurdle. I fail at every task and goal I set myself. All I succeed in doing is sitting down at a desk and staring at a computer screen. I type out maybe… 4 words over the course of half an hour? Then I cry. And cry. And cry.

Not being able to write is making my anxiety worse. As such, this is me accepting that it’s just not going to happen until I am in a better place, both physically, and mentally. Thus… hiatus.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I fully intend to pick everything up again — #AcresofInk challenge included — as soon as this dark cloud passes. Also my writing partner, K.F. Goodacre, is drip-feeding me her own edits of The Mayor: Part One for me to read and absorb, and we have our writing retreat to look forward to in late November. Until then, I can still research. I can still world-build. I find these sorts of things are less taxing than editing or writing — they are true escapism. When I’m having an OK day, I can also stretch to adding to my outline of The Mayor: Part Two, which is definitely productive.

I’ve also commissioned some artworks from my illustrator Brettarts of some of my favourite scenes and characters from The Mayor to inspire me and bring me pleasure. Below is one such example of these depicting my characters, Melora and John. I can’t wait to have this incredible image printed, framed, and put on display in the office of my new house (when things eventually start moving on that front). I hope you like it ♥

JohnandMelora

I’m sorry to my friends and Beta readers I’m letting down with this news, but please know that it is absolutely necessary if I am to make it to next year at all.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 38: Question 32 & 33

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

32. What is your protagonist’s biggest weakness?

Melora’s biggest weakness is definitely her naïvety. She’s also incredibly spoiled, which goes hand in hand with her naïvety, because it means she has a rather idealised view of the world. Her inability to recognise when she’s being manipulated lands her in a lot of trouble in The Mayor, which is ironic really, because she’s pretty manipulative herself.

I feel like these traits are quite well-demonstrated in my answer to the question below.

33. Your favourite scene

OK, so I made a list of favourite scenes vying for my top spot, and all six of them are spoilerific. Thus, I’m actually answering the question, “What scene do you have a soft spot for that doesn’t give anything away?” as opposed to which is my favourite

Disclaimer: this passage is very much in the draft stages. Please forgive the horrible syntax and my chronic verbosity.

Melora was in a far lighter mood for having seen Mr Kale again. She even saw fit to compliment Jaspher later that afternoon on his shiny new cravat pin — a silver oval with a garnet embedded at his centre — which suited his appearance very well.

“Thank you, Miss Winship,” Jaspher blushed, his expression lighting up at the compliment.

“Ahem,” Craven cleared his throat. The two hastily resumed their work, but as an unfazed Melora hummed quietly to herself, Jaspher kept his head down, furiously scribbling with his quill, neck prickling as he felt Craven’s cool, penetrating gaze upon him.

He wore the pin again to work next day. Then the next day. And the next. Although Melora extended no further compliments, he couldn’t help but squirm each time Craven looked his way, subtly covering his throat as the man sized him up like a specimen pinned beneath glass.

*

In the weeks that followed, Melora saw Mr Kale only thrice more, and each time, much to her bitter disappointment, he completely ignored her.

The first time, he seemed to be in a hurry, walking in the opposite direction with little time for small talk. The second, he dropped by to speak with Jaspher, not deigning to acknowledge her at all before the two of them departed for the shipping yard.

The third was just before her father bumped into him in the corridor, dumping her unceremoniously in her office before dashing off with Mr Kale, who scarcely spared her a glance. She fought the urge to cry as she flounced into her chair, rubbing her eyes and sniffing with the effort it took to restrain her tears.

“Miss Winship?” Jaspher’s voice jarred enough to make her grit her teeth. “Are you quite alright?”

“I’m fine, Jaspher,” she snapped, mood instantly souring as he hastened to his feet. Swords, why did he have to be so saint’s damned attuned to her distress? Could he not just leave her the hell alone for once?

She glared at him as he approached, temper flaring as her eyes were drawn to the pin nestled at his throat.

“Have you no grasp on the concept of fashion, Jaspher? You’ve been wearing that self-same cravat pin every day for the last month.”

Immediately she felt a stab of self-reproach — Jaspher’s face fell faster than cannon shot. Recoiling, he shuffled his way back to his desk, and Melora bit back the overwhelming urge to apologise, guilt only serving to stoke her anger.

Why should she apologise? She’d only spoken the truth. Why could he not change his attire every day like Mr Kale? The man paid her more attention than anyone she had ever known. Why could he not take more pride in his appearance? Be a little more sure of himself? Be a bit more interesting? Why could he not–

Why could he not be more like Mr Kale?

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 37: Question 31

I suppose I’m behind in all other aspects of my life, so it only makes sense I be behind in my blog posts too…

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

31. Book recommendations | Fans of your book might also enjoy…?

If you like the age of sail and/or pirates…

The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb

Ship_Of_magic The_Mad_Ship Ship_Of_destiny

These books are probably the closest in tone, style and setting to The Mayor— both being fantasy books with an 18th century colonial feel and strong focus on characterisation. The Liveship Traders was of great inspiration to me when I was first conceiving of The Mayor. The premise may sound a bit bonkers — living ships and whatnot — but I promise you, the execution is stunning. These are my favourite books of all time.

I’m also recommending Kingston by Starlight here by Christopher John Farley.

Kingston By Starlight

Told from the perspective of Anne Bonny, one of two women — the other being Mary Read — who sailed with the infamous pirate, Captain Jack Rackham, Kingston by Starlight is a beautifully written, if very short book. I read it around the same time as The Liveship Traders and it contributed greatly to the development of The Mayor as a result. How exactly? Well… read both and you might find out!

If you like grimdark…

The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The_Blade_itself Before_They_Are_Hanged Last_Argument_of_Kings

Tighter, leaner and more tongue-in-cheek than the works of George R.R. Martin (i.e. the poster boy of grimdark), The First Law brilliantly subverts a number of tried and tested fantasy tropes. The trilogy’s greatest strengths lie in its characters however.

Also, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Book 1 in the Gentleman Bastards series — I’ve only read book 1 so can’t comment on the others).

The Lies of Locke Lamora

Again, like The Liveship Traders, I think The Lies of Locke Lamora is quite similar to The Mayor in terms of its tone, style and setting. The city of Camorr is based on late-medieval Venice, but it is situated within an unnamed fantasy world (not unlike New Hardway, which I ground very firmly in the 18th century). Thus they’re both historically accurate to a point, but just different enough to merit a fantasy label.

If you like a bit of rough and tumble…

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (also known as Cross Stitch here in the UK)

Outlander

Genre-bending, time-travelling hijinks ensue when 1940s combat nurse Claire Randall accidentally travels back in time to 18th century Scotland and winds up married to an honourable highlander with a glutton for punishment. Packed with steamy sex, fascinating examinations of politics and buckets full of blood, don’t let the sexist marketing fool you; Outlander is about as far from an air-headed historical romance as one could possibly get. It’s well-written, well-researched and the characters are glorious. Expect trauma at the hands of a paperback. This is another one of my favourites.

If you like claustrophobic family dramas…

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist cover

Secrets and lies threaten to tear a family apart amidst corruption and greed in 17th century Amsterdam. You can read my review of this wonderful book here.

If you like villains you love to hate…

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The_Pillars_of_the_Earth

This book was actually recommended to me after someone read a really early draft of The Mayor, and asked me to develop my villain, William Kale, a bit more. The villain in this book — also called William, funnily enough — …oh boy, is he a piece of work! In the words of Follett himself:

Of all the villains I have created, William Hamleigh is the one readers most love to hate. Critics sometimes say that a villain should not be all black, but should have a streak of gray, some redeeming trait, to be realistic. The heck with that, say I, and William proves my point. He’s realistic because he’s driven by believable psychological demons.

~Ken Follett, Notes & Highlights from The Pillars of the Earth

Judging from some of the reactions I’ve received from my readers (see here), I’d like to think the same now applies to William Kale, too!

Villain aside, The Pillars of the Earth is also a ripping good yarn that you’ll absolutely tear through despite its enormous size. Love it.

Diana Gabaldon’s villain Black Jack Randall from the Outlander series (mentioned above) also fulfils this criteria as well, so even more reasons for you to read Outlander!

S.E. Berrow