Eva Jordan in conversation with… Betsy Reavley

Eva Jordan in conversation with Betsy Reavley

On my blog I’ve been lucky enough to host some great interviews with some amazing local authors, and just recently that extended to a wonderful and informative Q&A session with prolific book blogger, Linda Hill, which you can read here. However, this month I’m really honoured to bring you an interview with someone who is both a successful author and one half of a successful husband and wife team behind the publishers Bloodhound Books and Bombshell Books, Betsy Freeman Reavley. 

  1. Hi Betsy, can you tell everyone a bit about yourself? 

I began my career as a writer and started my first novel when I was twenty-two years old. After having my first daughter and then getting married, I finally got round to finishing it and I was thrilled when an indie publisher offered me a contract and went on to publish the book.

The birth of eBooks and Amazon changed how people could publish and gave me, and my husband, an opportunity to start our own business, which we did in 2014. Bloodhound Books was born and we’ve never looked back. 

  1. What is the most difficult/frustrating part of being a publisher? 

The publishing world has changed since the birth of eBooks. Many authors still think of publishing in traditional terms and some authors struggle with the idea that our focus is on eBook sales, despite the fact we also produce paperbacks.

  1. As we all know, life can be difficult at times. Do you have a quote (either your own or someone else’s) or a motto that you try and live by, not just during the tough times but the good ones too? 

I listen to music to encourage me to focus my mind. Anything from BB King to Eminem will help me concentrate on what I want to achieve and keep going. The lyrics are all important to me and I take strength from them. I also love poetry, which inspires me to never give up.

  1. Truthfully, which do you prefer, writing or publishing?

They are both fulfilling but require very different skill sets. I couldn’t say. The pressure from publishing can be stressful but keeps life interesting. Writing is a lonely pursuit but one that I love.

  1. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? 

I used to read every review, taking each to heart, whether those words were good or bad. I am grateful to anyone who takes the time to leave a review, be it good or bad, but I’ve grown a thicker skin and now worry much less. What I do care about are sales figures. I am not a literary writer who does it for the art of writing. I am a career woman and I want to make a good living.

  1. And finally, what advice would you offer anyone thinking of becoming a writer or a publisher?

I don’t think you can advise someone how to become a writer. It’s either in you to do it or it isn’t. Writer’s write, it’s that simple. As for publishing, I never thought I’d end up being a publisher but I have discovered that I enjoy business and the opportunity to give talented writers a platform. The one thing I would always encourage people to remember is that publishing is based on opinions. Do I like this book? Can I sell it? What one publisher may think another may disagree with. Neither is wrong. It’s all just opinion. As long as you remember that, then you’ll keep your head screwed on properly.

 

 

Advertisements

Book Bloggers – The Unsung Heroes Of The Book World

10011593_1786471088245862_5398185122946055833_o

Once a month I write a column for a local lifestyle magazine called The Fens. As well as offering writing advice I’ve also had the pleasure of doing some great interviews with some amazing authors. However, this month I thought I’d chat with one of the many brilliant unsung heroes of the book world, namely Linda Hill – book blogger extraordinaire. Among other things, Linda – a prolific reader – writes book reviews, takes part in blog tours and regularly hosts author guest posts on her award-winning Book Blog, Linda’s Book Bag. And like many book bloggers, this is all done in her spare time for nothing more than the sheer love of books.

  1. Hi Linda, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Hi Eva. I’m a passionate and eclectic reader (and a bit of a closet writer) who used to be an English teacher, inspector and educational consultant. I’m self-retired and love books and travel.

  1. Have you always enjoyed reading books and when did you first become a book blogger?

I was a late reader as my sight is so poor that I didn’t realise those squiggles on a page had meaning! Once I got glasses at 7 there was no stopping me and I still have my childhood Paddington books.

I began blogging three years ago when I decided life was too short to keep working and I wanted to share my love of books. Since then my blog has grown and I might even say has got out of hand!

  1. And finally, what advice would you offer anyone thinking of becoming a book blogger?

Learn to say ‘No’. There are only 24 hours in a day. It’s so tempting to accept every book you are offered for review and once you get known, the books keep arriving even if you’re not expecting them – I currently have over 900 physical books that have just turned up and I can’t get into my study.

Bloggers need to be very active on social media like Twitter and Facebook so that lots of readers see their blog posts.

I’d also say that authors never set out to write a bad book so be constructive and kind in reviews. A book that may not appeal to one person might be perfect for another reader.

I’d urge ALL readers to review on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, as well as a blog, as this is the only way many authors can get their books noticed.

And blog often!

Eva Jordan reviews… A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray ‏

Eva Jordan reviews A History of Britain in 21 Women - Post Header

Published by Oneworld Publications

This year marks the  100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the UK.  Also, on March 8th, it was International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, observed annually since the early 1900s. I, therefore, thought it appropriate to review a book that was both fitting and relevant to both these historic events.

A History of Britain in 21 Women is written by Dame Jenni Murray; probably best known as Radio 4’s presenter of Women’s Hour and whom I had the very great pleasure of meeting last year. These short biographies are a personal selection chosen by Murray to present the history of Britain through the lives of twenty-one women, whose lives embodied hope and change, who refused to surrender to established laws of society, and, who still have the power to inspire us today.

In the introduction, Murray, born in 1950, states that growing up “the role of a woman was to learn how to be a good wife and mother, do the cooking and cleaning and nurture those her around her.” She quotes Thomas Carlyle, circa 1840, who said ‘The history of the world is but the biography of great men,’ and as a young girl growing up in Barnsley in the 1950s and ‘60s that’s pretty much what Murray believed. However, it was education that made her question the expectations placed on women, and after attending a wonderful girls’ school she began to discover many women that had influenced history and also challenged the assumption that a woman’s place was in the home.

Murray writes about, to name but a few; Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni tribe who fought bravely against the Romans to preserve a social structure that had been practised by, and was so important to the women of the tribes of Britain, namely equality; Aphra Behn, the first English woman playwright to earn her living by her pen; Astronomer Caroline Herschel, after whom a crater on the moon is named; And, computing pioneer Ada Lovelace. We are also given an insight into the courageous account of writer Fanny Burney (1752-1840) entitled ‘Account from Paris of a terrible Operation – 1812, who, when she discovered she had breast cancer and under the insistence of specialist surgeons, underwent one of the first recorded mastectomies at a time when there was no effective anaesthetic – ouch! She was 59 years old at the time and went on to live until the ripe old age of 88!

Written as biographies in small chunks, A History of Britain in 21 Women is well researched, informative and entertaining. Dedicated to “all the young people who need to know” it is an illuminating, easy read offering a great deal to both women and men of all ages. However some of Murray’s omissions were interesting and there was one woman in particular whom I felt wasn’t deserving of a place amongst such great individuals – but that’s purely politics. Nonetheless, a thought-provoking read finishing with a timely reminder that we still have a way to go and the fight for gender parity must continue.

 

It’s Not Always Fiction!

Happy New Year everyone! May 2018 bring you health, happiness and success (in whatever way you measure it) and if you get thrown a few curve balls along the way, may you have the strength to manage them. I would also like to wish all the book lovers out there many happy reading hours. May we all find the time to read lots of books this year, and hopefully put a dent in that ever growing TBR pile while we’re at it (pssst, we all know that will never happen and that TBR piles are only ever apt to grow!). And to all my writer friends, I wish you every success for the coming year, may you be blessed with the time and inspiration to do what we all love to do the most – write!

In the meantime, take a look at some of the beautiful gifts I received over the festive period and on my 50th birthday in November. There’s a diary with a difference, a toolbox for writers, a colourful book about some of  history’s amazing women and a treasury of unusual words. Each one is lovely or unique and just goes to prove, that when it comes to reading or writing, it’s not just about fiction!

41oQAhVIC1L._AC_US218_

First up is the Me.You. Diary by the lovely Dawn French. Bought for me by my OH, it is absolutely gorgeous and in the words of the lady herself:

This book is a way for us to tell the story of a year together. Feel free to write your appointments in it, lists, thoughts and reminders of, say, who to kill, and when, and in what order. But I’ve also written about age and life as I see it, through the seasons and the months, and I’ve added some places for you to join me in some fun and some thinking. By the end of the year, I am hoping you will have a fatter, scruffier book that is written by me but totally personalised by you.

51rbEoYob2L._SY365_BO1,204,203,200_

Secondly, bought for me by my lovely children is The Writer’s Toolbox, a fun approach to helping with writer’s block, getting past that difficult opening line, or simply rounding out characters. Developed by long time writing teacher Jamie Cat Callan, The Writer’s Toolbox is described as:

An innovative kit that includes a 64 page booklet with exercises and instructions that focus on a ‘right brain’ approach to writing. Sixty exercise sticks will get stories off the ground, 60 cards fuel creative descriptions and four spinner palettes will ignite unexpected plot twists. For an aspiring writer this kit is the perfect first step on the path to literary greatness!

61R+8JNHZkL._AC_US218_

Thirdly, if, like me, you’re bit of a history buff, then I highly recommend  this beautifully illustrated book by writer and artist, Ann Shen, again bought for me by my lovely children, which takes a look at 100 remarkable women that helped shape and change history. Great for young and old alike, it provides a perfect snapshot of each woman, alongside Shen’s lovely illustration of each.

The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, scientists, activists and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolour portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute.

51D1GJtaNDL._SX295_BO1,204,203,200_

And finally, just for sheer amusement and the love of unusual words, I highly recommend Foyle’s Philavery, another wonderful gift from my other half. Written by Christopher Foyle (chairman of the world famous Foyles bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road) this book is a collection of some the overlooked gems of the English language.

Some of these words appeal because of their aptness, some for their obscurity, some for their euphony, and some for their quirkiness. As a collection, they represent the fruits of a lifetime of reading and will delight all word lovers.

Out Of Bad, Comes Good!

The Sis Book Launch 1

The great thing about being a writer … is meeting other writers! Having met author, Louise Jensen, earlier this year, I was honoured when, in August, she kindly invited me to her book launch for the paperback version of her debut novel, The Sister, which took place at Waterstones, Market Harborough. Originally released as an ebook in July 2016 with digital publishers, Bookouture, The Sister has met with great success. However, when I first met Louise and we got chatting, I was both intrigued and surprised to find that the circumstances behind penning her first novel shared some similarities with my own journey. Louise, like me, always aspired to be an author and through no fault of her own, again like me, found herself victim to a set of circumstances that would forever affect her health. Finding she was less active and unable to do some of the things she was used to doing was, Louise admitted, a real struggle, and at times quite depressing. Little did she know, as she set about putting pen to paper, again, like me, it would be the start of her writing career and see a long awaited dream come true.

Louise has since written a second novel, The Gift, and her third novel, The Surrogate, was released last month and is already getting some rave reviews. Since writing, The Sister, with translation rights having been sold in 16 countries, Louise has also acquired a literary agent and has been signed to write another novel with Bookouture, with the paperback versions of her books now in the safe hands of Sphere (Little, Brown).

The book launch was a great success and all concerned had a great night. There was enough wine and nibbles to sink a battleship and even a cake, The Sister 1

although sadly I had to leave before I had chance to nab a slice. The only downside for me was my car journey home. What should have taken an hour instead turned into a rather wearisome two and half hours as I met with not one, not two, but three roadblocks! Nonetheless, I refused to get down, instead looking for something positive from my little detour. After all, as a writer, no experience is ever wasted, and, thankfully, I have a rather active imagination. So, as the Shat Nav in my car led me down one narrow, winding, and eerily dark country road after another, an idea for a story began to take root. Due to other commitments I’ve parked it for now, but, when I’m ready, I will no doubt resurrect it and put it to good use, my little diversion thus not a complete waste of time! Therefore, next time you find yourself in a situation you’d rather not be in, remember, as my unwanted little rendezvous suggests, and as Louise’s story proves, sometimes amazing things can happen as a result of difficult times in our lives, and, ultimately, out of bad, comes good.

The Sis Book Launch 4.JPG

Eva Jordan reviews… Beautiful by Katie Piper

 

Book Review41kYkuYpxiL

Publisher – Ebury Press

Several months ago, I had the great honour and pleasure of meeting the writer and TV presenter, Katie Piper. The victim of a horrific acid attack, mostly to her face, neck and upper body, Katie is a shining example of triumph over adversity. Friendly and approachable, Katie, who smiled constantly, proved to be genuinely warm and extremely generous with her time. So, this month’s book review is a work of non-fiction by Katie Piper.

Katie’s autobiography, Beautiful, explains how she was attacked, her life beforehand and the events leading up to that terrible, fateful day. Age twenty-four, living in London, Katie was a beautiful, successful, and ambitious young woman when she was brutally raped by her then-boyfriend, whom she had met on Facebook weeks earlier. Several weeks later she then had acid thrown in her face, also initiated by the same said boyfriend. “I heard a horrible screaming sound, like an animal being slaughtered … then I realised it was me.” However, if Katie’s perpetrator thought she was going to crawl away and hide her injuries from the rest of the world, he was sorely mistaken. He clearly hadn’t bargained for such a courageous and gutsy young woman. Through the love and support of wonderful family and good friends, not to mention an iron will powered by true determination and courage, Katie completely turned her life around. To many, she is both an inspiration and a role model. She is also, I think it is safe to say, still beautiful, incredibly successful and rightly ambitious – despite one man’s attempts to sabotage such qualities.

Some of you may recognise Katie from TV shows like Bodyshockers and Face to Face and like me, you may have read about her terrible ordeal back in 2008, but also like me, you may not have realised the full extent of her injuries, and the pain and suffering she endured, both mentally and physically. “It was just a normal mirror, a round sheet of glass encased in a white plastic frame, but as I reached for it, my hand trembled. ‘Take your time, Katie,’ my psychologist Lisa said gently…But I didn’t do things by halves – I never had…All of a sudden, that normal little mirror became a window into hell.” Katie has had and continues to have, countless operations and skin grafts, she is blind in one eye and because she swallowed some of the acid that permanently scarred her face, neck and arm, she also suffered internal damage, resulting in a great deal of scar tissue around her oesophagus. This left Katie unable to eat and swallow food properly, which again resulted in yet more surgery. Katie makes no attempt to hide the fact she struggled after her attack, describing some very ‘dark’ times, however, this is also a story of hope and inspiration.

Well composed, Beautiful is easy to read but not an easy read. Nonetheless, it is also written with great warmth, humour and aplomb. One woman’s triumph over evil and living proof that life does go on despite, at times, unimaginable difficulties and suffering.

Katie Piper

 

Writing – The School of Hard Knocks.

 

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

                                                                                   – C S Lewis

absorbed-2409314__340

“Writing – ain’t for the faint hearted.” Who said that? Oh yes, of course, me! And if you think it is, I suggest you give up now. It often involves long, solitary hours tapping away at a keyboard, in front of a computer screen, where emotions are apt to swing violently from belief your work is the next big thing to the worse piece of writing on the planet – ever. Then there are the edits and the rewrites and that’s long before you start submitting your work. And once you do, there’s every possibility it will be rejected. But if you are lucky enough to get a publisher, or indeed as many brilliant writers now do, successfully self-publish, you’re still putting your work ‘out there’ for public scrutiny. Reviews are vital to a writer and sometimes they’ll be great, at others, brutal. So without doubt, the one thing you open yourself up to, as a writer, is rejection and criticism. In fact, that’s probably a given for most things in life, especially those that catapult you, one way or another, into the public arena, which of course writing most definitely does.

However, how can you become known as a writer unless you take a chance? Luckily, reading is subjective. There will always be those (hopefully!) who love your work and sadly those who don’t. Never let rejection or bad reviews sway you from pursuing your writing dream though. Rejection is a strong test of character. Nonetheless, I do accept there will be days when it’s not always possible to remain so philosophical. So, for all the writers and would be writers reading this and suffering a crisis of confidence, here is a list of famous writers whose novels were initially rejected.

  • A publisher rejects H.G. Wells The War Of The Worlds, describing it as “an endless nightmare.” Eventually published in 1898, it has been in print ever since.

41t5FlQEplL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Louisa May Alcott is told to “stick to teaching.” She doesn’t give up on her dream to become a published writer and later Little Women goes on to sell millions. Some 140 years later it is still in print.

31Ior5+qNCL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Agatha Christie experiences 5 years of continual rejection before landing a publishing deal. Her book sales are now in excess of £2 billion.

41WctdQZYhL._SX259_BO1,204,203,200_

  • In 1968 Ursula K. Le Guin receives a letter from an editor suggesting her book, The Left Hand of Darkness is “Hopelessly bogged down and unreadable.” It goes on to become one of her many best-sellers, regularly voted as the second best fantasy novel of all time, next to The Lord of the Rings.
  • Stephen King was told, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Carrie sold over one million copies in the first year alone.
  • Initially rejected by 16 literary agencies and 12 publishers, the modest print run of 5000 copies for John Grisham’s, A Time To Kill,  quickly sells out and goes on to become a best seller. He now has combined sales of 250 million.

513Dzz-wfWL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

  • The Christopher Little Literary Agency takes on a new client. Her novel is rejected by 12 publishers. Eventually picked up by an editor at Bloomsbury, the company agree to publish but tell the writer to get a day job as she has little chance of making money from children’s books. Yet Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling generates a series of such books, setting records as the fastest-selling books in history, with combined sales of £450 million.
  • Small publishers in San Francisco, Macadam/Cage, fall in love with and agree to publish a debut novel sent to them. Prior to this, 25 literary agents rejected it. Translated into 33 languages and adapted as a movie, Audrey Niffenegger’s, The Time Traveller’s Wife sells 7 million copies.
  • Only selling 800 copies on its limited first release, the author finds a new publisher and Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist, sells 75 million.