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Today, 31 March, is International Trans Day of Visibility. It’s a relatively recent event, founded in 2009 and designed to celebrate the lives and achievements of transgender people (in comparison to the more sombre Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November, which remembers those people killed through violence and discrimination). People will share stories and inspiration via social media (#TDOV) and events around the world.sign apr 16As a general rule, I’m not a fan of ‘days’. We started off with saints’ days but they have proliferated (and often extended – a local pub was advertising special offers for ‘St Patrick’s week’). Some are no more than a blatant attempt to sell greeting cards – nurses’ day? Others push a product or try to get you to do something silly for charity (‘Crazy Hair day’ anyone? No, me neither.)

So why mark this one? Because, for the last three years, I’ve been talking to trans people and reading about their day-to-day experiences via Twitter and blogs. It’s easy to think that the battle for transgender acceptance has been won with trans characters in shows like Hollyoaks and Eastenders but I read daily examples of casual discrimination. I believe that visibility and popular media have a huge role in supporting acceptance (the first lesbian kiss was on Brookside 22 years ago) so I’ve made a transgender character the lead in my novel. I’ve taken these real-life happenings and used them to illustrate what Detective Inspector Robyn Bailley has to go through as she comes out to the world as trans while continuing her job. I hope that by reading what she has to go through as she tries to lead a normal life, we may all become more accepting of our diverse and beautiful world.

 

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Cover story, part 2…

So here was the second attempt. Of all of them, this was closest to my original vision, except for a couple of minor points. My story is about a missing child, so I saw them walking away from the reader, not towards. Oh, and it’s about a boy, not a girl. But apart from that, I liked it. What do you think?

Cover 2

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Getting published

Cover story, part one…

Let’s start with an old favourite – a picture is worth a thousand words. Like many clichés, it’s only true in certain circumstances. In the case of a book cover, it’s worth about 95,000 words because the cover will be a major determinant of whether the book is even picked up, before any words are read.

When you’re neck-deep in trying to sell your book, thinking about a cover seems like a waste of effort because it might never be needed. Then suddenly you get your break and designing the cover is one of the tasks that makes the whole experience real.

As it happens, I did have a clear idea of what I wanted, because I describe one particular image in the book (don’t worry, no spoilers here). Unfortunately, this would have been too complicated to produce. So, we tried some other ideas and I wanted to share the ideas we went through before we got to the final version.

Here’s the first:

Cover 1

While an abandoned warehouse does feature, there isn’t anything about the sky melting, so we decided this wasn’t right. More soon…

 

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Getting published, Writing

Putting the world to rights

Today, I met my girlfriends for lunch. We all used to work together (more years ago than we care to remember) . Now, we’ve all gone our separate ways but we try to meet up around quarterly to catch up, which means chatting for around four solid hours with lashings of cheap rosé. Over the years, I’ve talked (a lot) about my writing and they’ve been kind enough to ask about how progress was going each time they saw me and to say positive things in the face of rejection and the other obstacles facing writers.

These people aren’t writers. I don’t discuss plot points or Oxford commas* with them. No, we talk about life in general and laugh like drains. And it struck me today that one thing a writer really needs is a support network of people who can remind you that life is fun. Writing can be a very solitary pursuit but given that the focus of most writing is human interactions, sometimes you need to step away from the keyboard and talk to people.

* I’m allergic to Oxford commas.

 

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Adjusting to the climate…

Here I am at the end of my first week of being a signed author. And what has changed? Lots – and nothing.

The week has flown by. I’ve been reviewing my book. Again. Except this time, it’s been typeset as a book and is laid out as it will be when published. It’s even in a new font, Garamond, chosen because the others were all too flat (or something similar).

What has changed is my status. While friends, family and colleagues have been congratulating me, it can feel as if large parts of the writing world have shut me out. Lots of websites and Twitter feeds are aimed at aspiring authors. No longer aspiring? Off you go. The number of competitions I can enter has also shrunk dramatically.

While I fully understand this, I’m not sure I know that much more about writing, publishing (or frankly anything) than I did last week, so it will be a learning curve. But, when I see a picture of someone flat out on the floor of a shopping centre, taking a picture for the cover of my book, it somehow all becomes worth it…

Blog 1

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Getting published, Uncategorized, Writing

It’s happened…

Yes, it’s happened. On World Book Day, Impress Books announced that they would be publishing my novel, He’s Gone’. It’s been three years since I first put finger to keyboard, nearly two years since typing ‘the end’ at the bottom of the first draft. A lot of people have helped me get here, from reading the drafts; giving encouragement or buying me wine at appropriate moments. I’m reading the final proofs of the book and I’m very, very happy…

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