This Way for the Giveaway!!

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I’m really pleased to report that gettingsomethenovel has a following of almost 1000 at the time of writing. I just wanted to take the time to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who follows the blog on Twitter and via email. It’s been a real pleasure connecting with you all!

In order to celebrate this milestone, I’ll be hosting a giveaway of a USD$20.00 Amazon.com giftcard. If you want to participate in the giveaway, please drop me a line at kikiterrell@gmail.com with ‘Giveaway’ in the subject line of your email. I’ll make a random drawing on the date that we reach 1000 followers!

Cheers!

Photo credit: ejorpin / Foter / CC BY-NC

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The Chocoholic’s Guide to Barbados

Yes, I’m back! And, happy as I am to return to 100% focus on writing and business and self, I’m also a little sad to be leaving Barbados. Summer 2013 in Bim was the best for the fun times I had with friends and family, but it’s time to get back to birthing the books that are my life’s purpose.

So, as a practising chocoholic, there was only one way to say such a bittersweet goodbye – in chocolate!

Here are the top three choccie desserts with which I said goodbye (and what was happening while I scarfed them down!)

1. Dark Chocolate, Mount Gay Rum, Girlfriends & Goss IMG_00000117 (1)

I met the girls in Bim’s coffee-chic cafe – Coffee Bean – for lunch.

It was one of those lunches where everybody had news about the office nemesis or the new crush or last night’s hot date, or, in this case, all of the above. The Marketing Wiz girlfriend brought me a bar of Agapey Chocolate Factory’s Rum Caramel Bar, made with Extra Old Mount Gay Rum right (there) in Barbados.  Words cannot describe the sensation of wickedly rummy caramel goo melting in my mouth after a bite of dark chocolate. Perfect guilty treat post-break-up, post work-out, post-coitus, post-dinner ….. you get the idea!

2. Cocktails, the Lime Bar & Mud

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Catching up with Diana Springer during her vacation was bliss! The occasion was cocktails with the girls at the Lime Bar in Holetown’s Limegrove Lifestyle Centre. It was a pretty busy night for the bar but our table brought the riot, especially when I shared the reason for the 5-inch heels and sequins.

When I wasn’t laughing my head off, I was kept giddy by the goodness of Lime Bar’s cream-topped mudslide. Mmmmmn!

 

 

3. Cake, Ice-Cream & the Beginning of the End 

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No summer is complete without the thrill of the summer romance. It’s the equivalent of retail therapy’s mega-discount, good only for the duration of hot days and heady nights. Alas, like summer, the romance must end, and when the summer crush threw a major tantrum and showed his ass, it was the girls who commiserated with me over a plate of chocolate cake from Bubbas and a scoop of strawberry ice-cream. Summer may not last, but chocolate is forever!

Now the fine-print: Nobody paid me anything (not even a damn free drink!) to promote their products or services here. None of the makers of these chocolate treats knew I was coming or taking pictures. However, feel free to offer!

 

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The Great Chocolate Goodbye

plop-2I’ve finally decided on the way that I’ll be bidding goodbye to beautiful Barbados …… in chocolate.

As in, I’ll be revelling in the best chocolate this place has to offer for my last few days of cocoa-flavoured hedonistic bliss.

Get in an extra workout in anticipation and watch out for my next blog post on the five (or maybe 10) best chocolate treats in Barbados.

Choccie lovers ….. UNITE!!!

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My Blog Is A Cannon

Today I opened my inbox to a rash of notifications from Twitter : 50 new followers so far for the day.

Now, my Twitter following has been growing pretty consistently of late (I average 5 – 10 new followers per day, usually) but I’ve never had this many followers in one (half)day before. So what was the reason for the sudden jump?

A short trip over to the email address attached to my blog revealed the deal: a fairly popular website called The Bookshed had linked to one of my blogposts about Kirkus Reviews (you can see that post here) and the many who visited that site to read the article, seemed to also have visited my blog and Twitter account as well. You can visit the Bookshed site here.

Hey presto! 50 new followers in half a day and growing.

A cannon is one of those huge antique weapons that blasts cannonballs into the cannonball-smith-de-ilegalstratosphere – you can’t help but notice when it’s fired off a round. Which is why I liken social media, and a blog, in particular, to a cannon. Even if we feel that our blog is like that tree falling in the forest (if no one follows a blog, does it even exist?) it’s often just a matter of time before someone hears the cannon. Yes, it might be a long, long time, but them’s the breaks!

I’m still enjoying engaging with my followers and the people I connect with on Twitter and via my blog and, while blogging hasn’t led to a book deal (so far!) or an enthusiastic agent or the NY Times Bestsellers List or the Amazon Bestsellers List (or heck, any bestsellers lists!) I keep firing off that cannon with all the gusto a girl can muster!

In need of the assurance today that your social media efforts aren’t in vain? Below are a few success stories about writers who got their big breaks via social media.

felling-snags-on-fire-line-around-the-coquille-ccc-camp-siskiyou-national-forestWait!

I think I hear a tree falling ……

1. Abigail Gibbs, Beth Reeks and Emily Baker’s stories are here;

2. Corrine Jackson’s story (and her agent was a Twitter tease!) is here;

3. Emily Carlisle used the internet to get lucky;

4. Hannah Karenna Jones did it! And she’s on WordPress, too!

5. Not a fiction writer? No matter, these bloggers did it with what they blogged about.

Photo credit: Danny Playami / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: OSU Special Collections & Archives : Commons / Foter

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The Prisoner in the Elevator

My buddy and writing partner Diana Springer shared with me today the blurb for the newnew-york-female-giants-baseball-loc novel forming in her head.

I was hooked, and then I was impressed. Not just by the intriguing plot she’d managed to come up with for her next writing project, but by the relative ease with which she’d developed a pitch for the novel. 

According to conventional business wisdom, an elevator pitch is the short statement or summary in which you deliver the major selling point of your product or service and why it is of value to the person hearing the pitch. The premise is that these are the few words you’ve got to sell your product to the power-broker of your dreams, already standing in the elevator when you get in, and with whom you’ll ride for a few precious minutes.  For writers, it’s the ten sentences you get in which to tell the big agent/publisher/Oprah why your book should be represented/published/on Oprah’s Book Club. What do you say?

I considered this quite a bit when drafting query letters for ‘Getting Some’. I had to decide what made this novel different from the millions of other chicklit books on the market, and why a reader would want to read it. And then I had to decide how to convey that message to the prisoner in the elevator. In other words, it’s not just what you pitch, it’s how.

I don’t claim to be an expert on this but here’s what I learned:

1. Make a popular association: It helps to have an opening which links your book to other books or projects the person might already know. For example, I’ve said that my book is ‘Sex and the City’ meets ‘Waiting to Exhale’.  Making an association with well-known (and successful!) projects helps to give an immediate and intriguing idea of what your book is about. Wouldn’t you want to hear more about a book that claimed to be the love-child of ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’? So would an agent, I’m sure.

2. Paint a riveting mental picture: Use colourful language in your summary. Don’t just summarise your romance with ‘Guy moves to Montana to run dead brother’s business and falls in love with his widow.’ (Awful plot, by the way…) Try saying instead ‘Rebel priest on the verge of laicization hitchhikes to hick town and takes over the operation of his dead brother’s bicycle rental company, much to the chagrin of the deceased’s strong-headed widow…‘ (Still an awful plot, but you get the idea!) A word of caution: don’t resort to verbosity in the effort to paint your picture….

3. Be succinct: It’s a pitch, remember that! The purpose is to get the agent/editor interested enough to ask questions and perhaps request a partial or full manuscript submission. In other words, you want the person to remember you when they get off the elevator so that they’ll request or be open to follow-up contact. Say what you need to say as succinctly as possible with this objective in mind.

4. Fit pitch to purpose: OK, it goes without saying that the purpose is getting your subject interested, but the pitch you deliver in writing as part of your query letter will probably look different to the one you deliver verbally at a writers’ conference. For one thing, the pitch which forms part of a query letter to an agent will probably be longer.

5. No gimmicks: Everyone hates a hard-sell so be passionate, but not overbearing. And try not to be gimmicky – you want to be remembered for your awesome project, not your awful pitch!

Get some advice straight from an agent here. Good luck!

Photo credit: The Library of Congress / Foter

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Writing Rituals

2-365-days-pen-and-paper-1While I was writing the first draft of ‘Getting Some’ I had this ritual I needed to follow in order to feel like I was ‘in the zone’:

I turned to the very last page of my red Post Office notebook and started my novel, and every time I wrote it after that I wrote towards the first page.

Sound strange? Not really. Apparently, lots of writers have a ritual they follow to (mentally) limber up and get into writing mode. This blog reports that the poet Friedrich von Schiller used to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk and would open the desk, inhale and then compose, Edgar Allen Poe wrote with a cat on his shoulder and Willa Cather (My Antonia was one of my all-time favourite books!) read the bible before putting pen to paper.

Stephen King is reported to have said that doing a series of things in eaxctly the same order every day helps to signal to his mind that it’s time to go into that dreamlike place where most writers find their muse. I believe him.   I remember the point in my life when  my writing most productive if I got up from sleeping very late at night, rolled over in bed and started scribbling in a waiting notebook. I did that for weeks on end while I finished that particular project.

I’m sure that there’s a perfectly logical explanation for the magic of the writer’s ritual, but at this point, all I’m interested in in what works for me when I’m bursting with the story I need to get on to the page.

I’ve found that my writing suffers when I don’t have a routine (and a ritual!) attached to it. Since I’ve been back in the Caribbean, in a house with extended family, working and trying to soak up a little sun, my writing has suffered. Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of not knowing whether I’ll be stealing a few moments on my lunch-hour  one day and then an hour while the toddler’s asleep on another. Perhaps it’s the mixture of writing bits on the laptop, others in a notebook, yet others on loose sheets of paper borrowed from the printer at work.

Maybe what the writing ritual signals most is consistency, and therefore dedication. It tells the muse that I’ll be in my ‘write’ space at the same time every day, ready to give my craft the time and care it requires to survive.

What’s your ritual?

I thought this blogpost was interesting:

The Eccentric Habits Of 8 Classic Writers (thoughtcatalog.com)

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Mindless Drivel

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Warning: This is one of those pointless posts not intended to inform, excite, edify or educate you – but I’m sharing it anyway.

You know how a particular song sometimes repeats itself over and over (and over) in your head and, much as you shake your grey matter and ask your subconscious to quit it, for the love of God and country …. you can’t get rid of it?

You guys would not believe what’s the (involuntary) soundtrack to my Friday. Check it out here.

If you want it, you got it ………. HELP MEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Photo credit: Viqi French / Foter / CC BY-NC

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How to Deal With Rejection

SONY DSCAnother morning. Blurry-eyed and patiently awaiting the buzz I get from coffee delivered intravenously (don’t try that at home!) I powered up the PC and shuffled towards my email inbox.

There was much of the usual: notifications from Twitter, a daily report on my (flagging) Goodreads ad campaign and a healthy dose of spam.

There was also a rejection.

What is it about these nicely-written emails of disinterest from literary agents that has the capacity to crush mornings, evenings, entire weeks, even?

I considered my choices. I could either:

1. Throw a hissy fit in the style of Don Music from Sesame Street (I’ll never get it! Never! Never! Never!);

2. Fire off an email in reply, telling said literary agent that she made a terrible mistake and should snap me up before someone else catapults ‘Getting Some’ to the very top of the New York Times Bestsellers List (or send her any other electronic variation of the ‘you made a mistake‘ brand of kiss-ass grovelling I normally can’t stand);

3. Throw my computer against the wall, soak my USB in a specially prepared ‘Rejection’ martini, stoke the fireplace with my manuscript, turn my office into a nursery and have another baby (hey, at least I’d be able to blame my non-existent bestseller on Junior!);

4. Do nothing.

In the end, what happened in my ‘office’ was a mixture of numbers 1 & 4. Thankfully, the coffee I.V. started to kick in just then and, with it, my usual clearheadedness, so I clicked out of my inbox and back to my manuscript….

And then I kept writing.

Here’s what other pressers had to say on this matter:

Related articles

Photo credit: Caro Wallis / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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Kiki Terrell – Smut-Writer?

make-mine-a-smuttySo ….. as part of my perpetual search for reviewers willing to have a read of ‘Getting Some’ and write about it, I tried to upload the book to Story Cartel.

The Story Cartel concept is novel and appealing: upload your book, agree that it’ll be free for a specific period and Story Cartel members can sign in and download it with the understanding (not the promise) that they’ll review the books they read. Sounds like a win-win, right?

If only I got past the approvals process. Lololol! After a few days of silence after submission, I queried Story Cartel to see whether there was a problem.

Here’s the text of the email I received from the very affable Joe Bunting:

Hi Kiki,
I’ve reviewed your book and while I agree that it’s not pornographic, I think it’s a bit too much for Story Cartel. In our guidelines, we say,”The books on Story Cartel are the books we share with friends and family around our coffee table. If your book wouldn’t be appropriate for our coffee table, then it’s probably not appropriate for Story Cartel.” I realize that’s very subjective, but I’m afraid we’re not comfortable with your book. I’m sure it will do just fine though, and I wish you all the best with it.
Thanks again, Kiki.

Joe Bunting

As Joe says, what’s suitable for coffee table viewing and discussion is a subjective matter. I for one, have ‘Sex’ by Madonna on my coffee table, so maybe I’m inclined to take a liberal approach to the interpretation of what’s coffee-table-ready. However, I’m still disappointed that ‘Getting Some’ didn’t make the grade. Did I write one of the books I used to hide from my parents while reading?

So tell me, guys…… Is ‘Getting Some’ hot enough to make readers uncomfortable?Hmmmn ……. maybe it’s hotter than I thought! Lololol!

Kiki Terrell – Smut-Writer!

Photo credit: Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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Would You Give Up the Day Job?

banksy-in-boston-follow-your-dreams-cancelled-essex-st-chinatown-boston-6If success happens in direct measure to faith, how many of us would ‘make it’?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately. Have you read the stories about the authors who had Eureka moments, ditched the day job, wrote a book and became a bestseller in the space of a year, without ever seeming to break a sweat about being able to buy a loaf of bread? I have. E. Lynn Harris. Tyler Perry. Zane. Emily Griffin. They all threw in the towel on the 9-to-5 at some point, and went on to become bestsellers in short order. Well, that’s what the book blurb seems to be saying, right?

Well, not really. If you look a little more closely, you’ll discover that most of them went through their own personal periods of financial wilderness pre-bestseller. It tended to happen shortly after the point that they surrendered the emotionally draining day-job they didn’t enjoy, and went after the writing dream – full-time. A few euphoric months later, when six months of savings has proven more fleeting than an ice-cube in hell, some of us have wondered whether telling the good job to go f*** itself, was well and truly worth it.

It’s a fact of life that writers tend to have to sustain themselves while they write. I have tried the unplanned ‘ditch-it-all-and-try-to-live-by-your-pen’ approach after the Eureka moment. Alas, several mind-numbing part-time jobs in retail later, all I wanted was a decent salary, never mind a decent manuscript! I could hardly concentrate on my writing, because I was so busy trying to figure out how to sustain myself and my family.

So I backed up, and went back to the high-flying career. Got money. Had no time to write. Was miserable.

And then I ditched the day job again.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

I’m still in the pre-bestseller period of my writing life (just barely!) but I thought I’d share with you guys my few tips for finding a soft place to land when you’ve had it up to here with the day-job:

1. PLAN! PLAN! PLAN SOME MORE! I had to put that part in caps, guys. Give planning your transition to a full-time writing career at least as much time as you gave planning the one you’re in now. Accept that the process might take years. If you’re a college grad., I’ll wager that you looked at a number of colleges, did your research about costs and funding, completed your programme, applied for jobs and figured out how you’d live until you got one. Why do you think that transitioning to a writing career can happen on a wing and a prayer?

2. Face Your Finances: If you want to leave a steady income to pursue a dream that look-after-the-pennies-and-the-pounds-will-look-after-themselves-32may take a while to pay you, you’ll need to be realistic about how you’re going to live until you can earn a living from your writing. Cut back on your spending and double up on your saving until you’re sure that you can live without a salary for at least a year before you make the move. Do you have a mortgage or family requiring a significant financial outlay each month? How will you handle that? Can you move back in with your parents for a year? Use one car instead of two? Take the bus or bike it instead of the train? Anything that is going to help you to cut back on expenditure and save money is worth considering. If you’re neck-deep in debt, this may not be the time to make the jump.

3. Face Your Family: You’d think that trying to save to give yourself a financial cushion while you try to make it would be the hardest thing about the process, right? Don’t believe the hype – facing your family is the real biggie. You’ll need to let the Mom/Dad/Husband/Wife and the generous Grandma who sent you money every month while you finished med.school/grad.school/college know that …… you’re not feeling it anymore. Yes, you really want to ‘throw away’ tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars worth of education to …… write stories ….. about people who don’t really exist ….. that might never see the light of day, far less become bestsellers. And, on top of everything else, you want them to like it! Lol! But facing your family helps with another really big challenge about this process, the one where you ….

4. Face Yourself: Do you really want to dedicate the rest of your professional life (or even the next year) to a (mostly) solitary existence writing a book/books that no-one may ever really want to read? Are you prepared to put in the hard work? To surrender the high regard of your (current) professional colleagues? To live on peanut butter and pizza for the sake of working on your craft? Be realistic. Not everyone can answer ‘yes’ to these questions. If you’re happy to write a poem per year in a few stolen moments each day and the thought of taking public transportation makes you suffer panic attacks, accept that quitting the day job may not be for you. Not now. Maybe not ever. Ask yourself whether you can honestly say that the inner turmoil from not pursuing your calling full-time is more uncomfortable …. than the creature comforts you currently enjoy are comfortable. And then decide whether you should…

5. Try Before You Buy: Take a writing class, visit a writers’ colony or attend a number of readings in your area for your next vacation or while you hold down the day-job. Or consider taking a (paid/unpaid or part-paid) sabbatical from your job (if your employer offers this) and going off to study writing for a year so you can work on your craft in a supportive community and still have the option of going back to paid employment when you’re done. Or sign up for an apprenticeship with a publishing house/literary agency/new media magazine/other magazine during your sabbatical. The point is, open yourself up to new opportunities in the field you love while you transition, don’t be inflexible. Not every writer will make the bestsellers’ list, but a hell of a lot of them go on to wonderful careers as acclaimed creative writing lecturers, literary agents or editors! If nothing else, you’ll learn about the writing world from different perspectives, and that can only enrich your writing experience. Above all …..

6. Protect Your Muse: Remember that the ultimate aim and intention is the writing starving-artist_litself. Don’t sacrifice your muse under the guise of giving it all of your attention. In other words, don’t throw the day-job to the wind, thinking you’ll be giving your writing the time and attention it deserves, and then find yourself devoid of inspiration or unable to write because of money problems or anxiety. It’s hard to write when you’re homeless.

Are you ready to take the plunge?

Photo credits: Mukumbura / Foter / CC BY-SAChris Devers / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDArtbandito / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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