Don’t Use The P Word!

I’m not talking about racist slang or words for what dwells in men’s underpants, the P word in question here is politics.

Now, I’m not an activist, far from it; I’ve only ever been to one march and if I’m perfectly honest I left part way through to go to a pub. It’s not that I don’t have a political viewpoint, I do, quite a strong one, I just don’t usually have the energy or inclination to argue about it.

(FWIW I’d say I’m a left leaning liberal with some socialist ideology)

The other day I broke my ‘don’t use the P word’ rule and tweeted in a slightly less than complementary way about the Unintelligent Kill Immigration Party (you know the ones, they like real ale and dislike accurate figures), I *might* have even retweeted the suggestion that people book tickets to the public meetings and not go. And I *will* admit that I might have said that I, myself, have done this. I got a couple of negative tweets, blocked a couple of people and thought nothing else of it.

A couple days later I was reminded of my tweets. My book got 10 one star reviews within a minute or so of each other, all of them not verified purchases. Some of them were boggling. some of them just meant to upset, almost all of them badly written.

My favourites are this angry yet somehow poetic description of my chick lit as some sort of Marxist propaganda:

DO NOT BY (sic) THIS FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR RESPECT FOR HUMANITY. Absolute disgrace to literature. The left wing propaganda is just a whole other plane of madness. A true leftist hates freedom.

and this one which, if it is an ironic mis-spelling, could be pure genius.

What tripe. Honestly couldn’t believe I paid money (um…you didn’t) for the intelligible (well, thank you.) ramblings of some socially and politically illiterate dolt. Don’t even bither (sic) (snigger)

And I was linked by a friend to an infamous internet forum that is the technological equivalent of the underneath of the bridge that the Billy Goats Gruff liked to clip clop over. I was being torn to pieces as leftie scum and there was a link to my book. Mystery solved.

So I had an idea. As I don’t really do the p word thing I thought that rather than a flaming war of words I do something good. Let’s show the trolls that they make no difference, go to Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-Nicola-Sheehan-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM), buy my book and I’ll donate my next two weeks profits to charity.

I did wonder if I could find the ‘Eastern European Builders Who Want Your Jobs LGBT Division’ to really make their troll blood boil, but instead have decided on a charity that is very dear to me, the Albert Kennedy Trust who help displaced LGBT teenagers to find help and support.

So please, buy into my ‘left wing propaganda’, let’s show the trolls and make a bit of money for an awesome charity.

http://www.akt.org.uk/

Dear JK Rowling…

Oh JK Rowling how did you keep going? I was thinking about this earlier as I printed out my freshly edited manuscript to feel the judgement of my red pen one more time. I thought about the cost of the ink and the paper and wondered what it is that makes me trust that I’m not wasting my time (or the paper or the ink).

I’m a single mother, just as you were. And, just as you were, I am bloody skint. I like writing. I’ve been told I’m quite good at it but I also have my little stack of rejection slips that whisper in my ear that I might not be.

I try to channel Sylvia Plath, use the whole ‘I love my rejection slips, they tell me that I try’ thing as my mantra but then I stop and think that ultimately Sylvia may not be a great role model.

So I look to you Joanne, how did you keep going? How did you have faith that all of the hours of writing and editing would be worth it or did you just have faith in Harry? As I read my manuscript with pen in hand one more time I try to have faith in Grimalkin Grumblepuss, *I* like her. *I* want to go on her adventures. I just need to believe that anyone else will want to.

So Ms Rowling if you have any tips to help me keep the faith please do send them my way. Please help me keep my faith that my effort is not merely a waste of paper and ink. I’d be eternally grateful.

My Son, The Agent…

After spending the afternoon editing my children’s book (Grimalkin Grumblepuss and The Case Of The Vampire Dentures-the blockbuster read for 2015!) my six year old son asked me to read some to him. I read him the first chapter and he listened, rapt. As I finished he was quiet for a few minutes before having a eureka moment: 

I know how you can make it better…

put a front cover, and a back cover on and then fix all of the pages together.

Kids can then read it themselves. They’ll love that.

Who needs a literary agent, eh?!

What’s In A Name..?

When can a writer describe themselves as a writer? Is there certain criteria that you need to hit in order to state that as your profession rather than your hobby? Like how often you write each day? Or how much money it makes you? Or is it like gender or ethnicity? It’s simply down to what you identify as? Though if that is the case perhaps I would like to identify as a supermodel as much as the majority would disagree.

Let’s accept for now an ‘I write, therefore I am a writer’ perspective; then when does a writer become an author? An author is broadly defined as “the person who originated or gave existence to anything” and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.

So by definition I can describe myself as not merely a writer, but an author. Awesome.

So when does an author become a novelist? In Tiger Tiger the eponomous heroine, Rebecca Somersby describes herself as a novelist before she has written a novel: 

“allows me to indulge in my actual profession, which is being a novelist. I say novelist, I haven’t actually written a novel yet but I definitely intend to soon therefore that is who I am and what I do…”

 

Is this fraudulant representation on Rebecca’s behalf or are we allowed to call ourselves what we feel inside?

My name is Nicola Sheehan. I am a writer, an author, a novelist, a burlesque superstar, a Man Booker prize winner and I am going to rule the world!

One step at a time, eh..?

 

In the meantime Tiger Tiger is available for the Kindle Store on a summer promotional price of £1.99, go, read it…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

An Artistic Temperament?

In June 2011 my life was very different to how it is now. After the breakdown of my marriage in 2009 I had managed to pull myself together and become a successful working single mother. I was a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care at St. Thomas’ Hospital. It was my dream job. All was good.

Well, apart from the increase in anxiety that I’d felt and the panic attacks that started sneaking in.

The panic started to get so bad that at work I would hide in the toilets and pray that no one paged me. I had friends I could talk to, my manager tried to be supportive though obviously she had a service to deliver and my emerging illness was interfering with this. As my health got worse I turned to the Samaritans, when I’m unwell using the phone causes me massive anxiety so I exchanged emails with an anonymous ‘Jo’. I knew that each ‘Jo’ I spoke to was a different person but ‘Jo’ was still a huge support.

Despite me talking my despair through with the ever understanding ‘Jo’ in late June I hit crisis. My head went to the darkest place it has ever gone to. I was terrified. Luckily I had a friend, Emily, who had experienced mental health problems herself and she fought tooth and nail to get me the help that I needed.

I lost my job. Probably for the best. Even with help I had to admit that I was very unwell, years of supressed emotions had come rushing out and my life would never be the same.

I’ve had two years now of not working, of being in constant contact with psychotherapists, psychiatrists, the wonderful people at Mind. I now have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and still struggle with my condition.

One thing that has helped me through has been my writing. Since I’ve been unwell it’s been the thing that has given me an outlet, it’s given me an identity away from motherhood, away from my illness, something to hold up and be proud of.

You read a lot about people with mental health conditions being artistic, hordes of celebrities have regular walks with the black dog; I’m not sure if there is a correlation but a friend of mine who also has BPD suggested recently that the BPD was a tax on being fabulous. I’ll take that.

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you?gclid=CKz9voPIp7gCFQTMtAodcVkAkQ

http://www.mind.org.uk/

Tiger Tiger is available in the Kindle Store: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

The Difficult Second Novel…

I’ve been writing my follow up to Tiger Tiger for a while. It’s not a sequel, I decided that Rebecca Somersby was best off as a one diary kind of gal (I’m still reeling from the disappointment that came with ‘Edge of Reason’). It’s called ‘Fidelity Wars’, it looks at five characters and how they bend the rules of fidelity to allow for their individual indiscretions.

I know each of the characters inside out. I’ve plotted out their story arcs chapter by chapter. I’ve even completely finished two of the five ‘heroines’ tales. It was all going quite well. It excited me. It felt fresh and exhilarating. Then I decided to publish Tiger Tiger (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372865918&sr=1-1&keywords=tiger+tiger+nicola+sheehan) almost as a precursor to the completion and subsequent promotion of ‘Fidelity Wars’. And it’s got awesome feedback.

And there’s the catch, ‘Tiger Tiger’ has been so well received and ‘Fidelity Wars’ is really very different and so I’m suddenly struck with rather crippling writer’s block at the thought that I’m writing something that might disappoint.

I see camping in a coffee shop and lots of frustrated screen gazing in my near future…

Skinny White Latte With Caramel Syrup & Community Spirit, Please.

ImageI live in Southgate, a fairly sleepy suburb of North London. It’s one of those areas of London that prides itself on having a village atmosphere; an amalgamation of restaurants and coffee shops, small independent shops existing in harmony next to big multinationals. So when I came to distributing my promotional posters asking people to support a local author I packed a healthy bundle ready to cover the notice boards of Southgate with my glossy posters.

However as I went around the coffee shops searching for community notice boards I found nothing. Zilch. Nada. The community spirit in the London village is seemingly non existent. Feeling a little disheartened I went to my ‘regular’ coffee shop, the place that I go most days either to set up a little office away from home, or to buy an edifying post-rough-night coffee, or as an after school treat with my five year old (because he is treated like royalty in there). Despondent at my lack of success elsewhere I console myself by replacing my old shabby (pre-Aimee Creative) poster with a new one and leaving some flyers on the counter. The manager, Colin, picks up a flyer, asks what I’ve been up to, says he’ll buy my book. My order is known without me giving it. This coffee shop is like a home from home, it’s like ‘Cheers’, where everybody knows your name. This coffee shop does do community, I’ve made friends, contacts here but this particular coffee shop has come under fire for being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a Harris + Hoole.

For those of you who don’t know, Harris + Hoole are a new chain popping up over London, the brainchild of the Tolley siblings who had previously run independent coffee shops in London and Brighton who wanted to bring great coffee to the masses. To do this they sought funding from Tesco, the Beelzebub of the retail world and have faced criticism in the press about Tesco holding a non controlling share of their company, about ‘pretending’ to be independent and ‘playing’ at being community spirited. Rhubarb to that, I say. Harris + Hoole Southgate is my office, my sanctuary; the staff show interest in me, in my work. They support me, they make me amazing coffee, they wake me up when I’m exhausted, they change the radio station when the wittering of Nick Grimshaw is interfering with the dialogue I’m writing. I’m not a fan of Tesco by any stretch of the imagination but community spirit is rare and isn’t something that can be put on and is something that is seemingly dead elsewhere in my London village. So I’ll stand and be counted, thank you Harris + Hoole, long may you continue to be my office and the only local bearer of my promotional poster.

(Tiger Tiger is available now in the Kindle Store: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_error)

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But I don’t have a Kindle…

I’m hearing this a lot. Lots of people don’t have Kindles, I get it. I like the smell and feel of real books too but in the cut-throat world of modern publishing eBooks are often the best route for authors like me.

Now Amazon want to sell Kindles so they don’t make it that obvious that you can read Kindle books without a Kindle but you can!

You can read Kindle books on:

a computer

a smartphone

a tablet

You just need the free Kindle app. SO go to Amazon and search ‘Tiger Tiger Nicola Sheehan’ and the right hand side of the screen will appear as below.

Then you can install the software for free on whichever platform you choose, sign in with your Amazon password and even get a sample of the book before you choose to downoad it. Simple really!

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

How sampling works

Read books on your computer or other mobile devices with ourFREE Kindle Reading Apps.

Genre Schmenre

The other day I asked a good friend of mine if she planned to download Tiger Tiger.

“I don’t really think it’s my sort of thing” she responded.

This is fine on it’s own, different people like different things but on this occasion it confused me. It’s not like this friend only reads fantasy books or crime fiction, I thought that we had quite similar tastes and (not just because I wrote it) Tiger Tiger is the kind of thing that I’d read. I looked puzzled:

“Oh?”

“Well I read Fifty Shades and I hated it. I tried all three books but it’s really not for me.”

My flabber was well and truly gasted. Tiger Tiger is definitely not in the same ilk as Fifty Shades of Grey; not that I’m criticizing anyone who likes Fifty Shades but it’s definitely not the same genre. Which is the thought that led to my stuttering response. The same stuttering, clumsy response that I’ve given to many friends who have asked about genre…

“It’s romantic comedy, but kind of more comedy than romance, that is to say it’s not a traditional romance, not Mills & Boon-y or anything. It’s a bit Bridget Jones-y, but different. It’s… gah.”

And I fail to describe it. I get the occasional “Oh I like Bridget Jones” but I don’t want to sell it off that comparison. It is what it is. It will make you laugh, might make you cry, is honest, and sweet and written with love. I don’t think that’s a genre though.