Posts Tagged ‘laptop’

So people listen to me apparently!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Sarah Haynes is pleased to announce the arrival of her brand new laptop! Oh yes. No more putting up with my inebriated computer:  unexplained overheating/shutting down apropos of nothing every two minutes/the screen freezing/untold amounts of faults necessitating the immediate shutdown of Google Chrome and the consequent loss of important work (not to mention the loss of important Facebook conversations). I woke up on Tuesday morning and, as is my wont,  thought – right, enough is enough. I cannot work like this. I cannot be a highly successful author with such a ridiculous piece of machinery. My husband disagreed and saw no real problem with the situation; in fact I would go so far as to say that he didn’t listen to a word I said.  So I had no choice but to ignore him and buy a new one and I LOVE IT!! There will be lots of writing and emailing and Twitter-ing and Facebook-ing and Skype-ing going on with it. It’s an HP one and a sort of burgundy colour. I wanted a pink one but it was about £300 more and the proverbial foot went down.  Pretty hard.  Anyway so that’s quite exciting in itself, but what is more exciting is that I have organised my first ever, ever, ever book-signing!! After the raw excitement of receiving my books and then business cards, the excitement for book-signing went off the scale to a level that my brain didn’t recognise and I felt sort of……numb. Like it isn’t true and won’t really be happening to me. That said actually, I’m not sure that a great deal will be happening to me. As a completely unknown debut author I don’t imagine that people will be flocking in their droves to visit me. But just in case you live near me and fancy coming along, it’s at Waterstones in Fareham on Saturday 16th October. All day. And I would love to see you. So do come along and witness me doing my first ever day’s work! Shamefully that is not an exaggeration.

AND I am very pleased that have agreed to review Things He Never Knew. I love the website, their reviews are honest and straightforward and provide good parameters by which to judge a book – she says with some trepidation……I just hope they like mine. But that’s part of the appeal of the site; honest reviews.  But just in case my excitement levels were dropping off, this bit of news served to perk them right up again. Honestly, Christmas is going to seem such a let-down after all of this.

So – I was going to write about my characters this time and how I create them. Having given it a lot of thought,  the answer is that I don’t really. I decide on a basic plan, for example, I am going to have a 2.4 family, the father will be called William, the mother Mary and the children will be Daisy and Michael and I will have an idea of how William, Mary, Daisy and Michael are going to interact and why. I then sketch out the rest of the plot, pretty thinly as I tend to find it twists and turns as I write it, and then I get going. I am very, very bad at planning individual chapters. I wish I weren’t because it would make my job a lot easier but I’m always too impatient to throw myself into the actual writing. So I do. And then William and Mary and whoever will come to life as I write. Just like Enid Blyton described, I watch my characters and listen to them. I don’t decide what words they’re going to say, I just write down what they do say. This often leads to me being surprised at what’s happening, and if it’s too absurd then I will change it, or if I find they’re going off in the wrong direction, like wayward children. I can’t have William and Mary misbehaving. Obviously at some subconscious level I am deciding what my characters will do, and this is where outside influence comes in. I will often hear things that anger/amuse/outrage/fascinate me and these get stored away for me to use on specific occasions. For example, in my new manuscript there’s a line where a parent is describing the terrible conditions of rooms at their child’s school and she says “Oh goodness – they’re practically third world!” which a friend of mine did actually say to me and I’m  pretty sure she doesn’t mind me repeating it (never mind publishing it…) and which I then filed for future use and created a scene where I could use it because it amused and interested me so much, for lots of different reasons. That’s an easy example. More difficult to pinpoint are the smaller elements that I draw in, as I said in my previous post, the colour of someone’s hair, little mannerisms, modes of speech, those sorts of things that make a person who they are. I must have quite a collection in my mind now and I suppose I just pluck a few out at random and try them for size on my characters. There’s no doubt though that they make themselves, I just help shape them.  And then clothe them, because that’s important.

I’m not much of a psychic but I do foresee that my life is going to get very, very busy over the next two weeks and beyond. Actually, that reminds me, I have three different web ‘areas’ for want of a better word ( and I’m sure there is one); here, my website and my facebook author page and information is liberally sprinkled over all three. Yet I’ve noticed that people ask me the same question time and time again, and that’s “When is the book being released?” This both amuses and confuses me; it’s a fairly major detail but obviously one that people just don’t take on board. Interesting. Anyway, so back to being busy – and I really will be. I already have a litany of tasks mapped out to be achieved and not enough days in which to do them. This could be interesting. However I always make time for the truly important things, which should come as a relief to some. And I tell you what, having a laptop that I don’t have to keep re-starting and giving little breaks to should make a world of difference.  Honestly, it was like taking an elderly relative out for a stroll and stopping to have little rests and cups of tea to make sure that they don’t keel over completely. And watching with a keen eye to prevent any unorthodox behaviour. But no more, my newborn laptop is working brilliantly, if confusingly (I am not clever with computers) and on that note I’m off to check progress on my facebook fan page (135 last time I checked) and twitter (100 followers!), so just think – assuming some overlap there are still in all probability over 200 people willing to listen to what I have to say on a regular basis. I must email my husband and tell him immediately.

Creatively Writing

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

DISASTER! A fully-fledged disaster has occurred in the world of Sarah Haynes. You all know that I indulge in the occasional glass of wine, well, last night my eldest daughter sent one flying across the keyboard of my laptop. I reacted quickly – and volcanically – but it became clear this morning that the machine has died a death. This is very sad but it did occur to me that if you’re going to die then being saturated in wine is probably the way to do it. As an emergency measure I was using an external keyboard connected somehow to my computer but this was difficult because some of the keys worked on my laptop and some didn’t so I had an interesting time typing things on two different keyboards and not being able to see what I was writing half the time.  Luckily, we are the type of family who have spare laptops in the loft and so I do have a temporary one. Don’t panic – I will still be able to fire my innermost thoughts and observations into the worlds of Twitter and Facebook. I cannot imagine life without the internet now actually. Would it be possible to exist?? It was sad but inevitable news the other day that the OED will no longer be produced. Apparently people are not buying dictionaries any more but using the internet for definitions. I understand this, but games of Scrabble will never be the same again. I’m getting more used to Twitter now by the way, and I have nearly 100 followers. For those of you on Facebook, you will all have seen the great big fuss I was making to get 100 fans on my Facebook author page. I’m now up 116 at the time of writing and considering having the same sort of foot-stamping episode for Twitter.

Anyway, in other news, over the last few days my husband has been reading Things He Never Knew. This was for the first time – he didn’t read it as I wrote it. And I hesitate to say that I forced him into it….but….well….I kind of forced him into it. To be fair, it really isn’t his sort of book, it’s commercial women’s fiction, and I’d just like to make clear that this isn’t his usual chosen genre, but unfortunately I don’t write the philisophical stuff he favours. I genuinely wanted his opinion, he reads a lot and is a very intelligent and thoughtful person and I knew that he’d give it to me straight, good or bad. So I signed a copy for him, wrote nice things inside and presented it to him. He really didn’t have a choice. Obligingly, he began reading it immediately, which is harder than it sounds because I was watching him like an absolute hawk; studying his face for traces of emotion – smiles/grimaces – and generally trying to assess whether he was enjoying it or not. I held back from asking him because I wanted to wait until he’d finished the whole thing and I managed to wait until he was one chapter away from the end before I finally gave in to my ‘now now now’ mentality and demanded “Well???”. He looked at me and just simply said “Brilliant. It’s brilliant.” Obviously I then demanded a complete in-depth rundown of exactly what he thought and felt and why (not restricting myself to the book) and his responses were both gratifying and obviously truly held. So there you are – my husband says my book is brilliant. I realise that it’s only a small step away from saying that my mother thinks it’s brilliant, but still. I sent a copy to her as well but unless she’s reading it aloud to the flock of cats as their bedtime story I can’t imagine that she’s had the time to finish it yet.

There was another interesting dimension to having my husband read my book and that was forcing me to think about how I develop my characters. This was because he kept quizzing me suspiciously as to how I knew so much about the characters emotions when I’ve never been in that situation myself. I know that sounds very cryptic but you’ve all seen the back cover blurb – or you SHOULD have done seeing as it’s plastered all over here, my website and my facebook page – and I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. So anyway, I tried explaining that it’s not real, I have made it up, but he simply kept saying “Well you must have got it from somewhere.” And he’s absolutely right, I did. My IMAGINATION!

So it got me thinking about how I do create my characters and where the elements come from. I’ll write about it next time because it is quite interesting and there’s too much to say for now. But every time I think about the actual creative writing process I am inevitably drawn back to a description I once read in a book of how Enid Blyton used to write. I bought the book (a biography of Enid Blyton by Barbara Stoney; absolutely excellent) last year in Corfe at Ginger Pop, the Enid Blyton shop. It’s a fascinating shop, lined with her books; she was a prolific author. An estimate puts her total book publication at around 800 titles, not including decades of magazine writing. I can’t see myself achieving that. Anyway, in that book Enid Blyton describes creating her stories, and she says that it was like watching a play and writing down what happens and this is the best description of writing fiction that I have ever found. Except for the manuscript that I am currently working on – for that I am literally watching what happens and writing it down. Friends and relatives: you have been warned! On which note, thank you to anyone who has recently left me a comment or clicked ‘like’ on my Facebook author page. It’s an easy thing to do and is a great help to me. And if anyone does have any questions/comments/concerns/queries, or just wants a chat, you can email me at  I’d hate to think that I have to write 800 books before I get any fan mail.

The Importance of Being Reviewed

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Right, this is it. I have come down from the dizzy high of receiving my books and now it is time to get serious (I am mostly lecturing myself here). Things He Never Knew is going to be released in 24 days and I need to be prepared.

You would think that my time management skills are excellent, having juggled a baby and a Law degree in the past – not to mention my hectic social life at the time – and indeed they might have been back in the day. Now, they are lamentably awful. Clearly a lot of you will be used to working and running a household with everything that entails, but I am not. This is all very new to me and I am struggling a bit to fit everything in and get it all in the right order. For example, my house is quite clean but my children still look a little bohemian; this is not by design but rather through lack of ironed clothes. I can get away with this because as a writer it’s possible that I could be slightly bohemian myself, but as anyone who knows me will tell you – I am not. Headscarves and flip-flops and maxi dresses and coloured beads and string bags are not to be found in my wardrobe. I’m not very tall and I think I’d look silly in a maxi dress. Mini is more my style.

So obviously I am thrilled and delighted to be in this position of having a book published, not to mention lucky, but that said I had no idea that so much – well – work went along with it. I have a friend who is knowledgeable in the fields of marketing and promotion and things and I am exceedingly lucky that he has taken me under his very skilled wing, but along with that comes a task list which is longer than me. And enforced rigorously. Even from afar. For example, he is abroad at this moment on holiday in Florida which I thought might lessen his communication levels. Not a bit of it, in fact he’s become inadvertently more effective at nagging because of the time difference. Every morning when I wake up and check my emails, there is always a little one entitled “Task List” sitting menacingly in my inbox, and it contains tasks – obviously – and then the final, killer, line: “….and when you’ve done them, send them to me.” It is precisely like being at school and catches me at my most unaware. But I must admit that it has the effect of making me do things that I might otherwise prevaricate about. Like thinking of ways to get people to review my book. At this stage they don’t even have to be favourable; just someone reading it would be fab. No, I am JOKING. Let me tell you that the idea of getting bad reviews strikes a chill into my very soul. It would silly of me to think that I can avoid it forever but frankly, the longer the better. For those of you not in the know, good reviews are completely necessary to the success of a book. This is because they draw the attention of far more people than mere advertising could do and not only that, but it’s a very effective method of imparting the salient information about the book and then hopefully following it up by a recommendation. Which brings me onto my next point, it needs to be a recommendation from someone whose opinion could be respected. I could get one hundred of my friends to write nice things about my book but it doesn’t count so much if I could have bribed/cajoled/threatened/blackmailed them into it. Far be it from me to do that, of course. In fact I have offered it out for review to a couple of important people so far and happily they have said yes, but the caveat that I have given them is that they are under no obligation to deliver a good review. All I’ve said is that I’d love them to read it and if they have something nice to say would they mind writing it down for me to use in my promotional material? I think it’s important not to make people feel that they must say nice things, which is a risk if you’re doing it through a semi-personal route, as I have done. When I begin approaching people and publications in a more formal manner then I will include no such caveat; I will simply request a review. But it will be done in an artful and persuasive manner.

Featuring prominently in this morning’s email was compiling a suitable list of people to target for review. As it has been for the past sixteen mornings. When I say ‘prominently’ I mean number one out of approximately 164. I have never known a task list to breed so prolifically. And I have 24 days in which to complete it………I can’t help feeling that I need an urgent lesson in time management; the way I did it before was a little extreme. In my defence all the stuff that I need to do is necessarily creative, and you can’t just switch creativity on at the drop of a hat. But I am also easily sidetracked.

Damn you, facebook.

Compiling my final list will take careful research and time, of which I am perilously short. I think I know this sub-consciously because I’ve started waking up in the night wondering what I should do next – the minute I can translate this into useful output during the day I will be sorted. The target review list has become something of a hurdle, and even when I had my ponies I was never very good at jumping. It’s even harder to scramble over a hurdle when circumstances conspire against you – take Monday night for example. I was trying to write (and trying is the operative word) but every five minutes my laptop just shut itself down with no warning. And I’m sorry but I cannot write whilst having to pause every two seconds to save the blasted thing. This malfunction nearly caused a complete meltdown from me – my husband watched me out of one eye anxiously whilst I watched him to see what he was going to do about it. I effectively lit the touch paper by mentioning the words “buy”, “new” and “laptop” all in the same sentence, whereupon he leapt up, took the computer apart, cleaned five years worth of dust and crap from it (ooops….) and then, magically, it worked. And whilst all this was going on, I was trying to remember what I was going to write, do the ironing and watch Coronation Street.

It’s a hard life being a writer.