Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top 5 Writing Tips I Wish I'd Known Before Publishing by Kate Hamer, Author of The Doll Funeral + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Doll Funeral
Kate Hamer
from Melville House

It’s the birthday gift every 13-year-old wants: The discovery that your parents aren’t your real parents. For Ruby, the discovery that she’s adopted, and that her abusive parents aren’t her actual parents, the discovery is galvanizing.

Determined to find her real mother and father, she runs away into the woods with nothing but a suitcase and the company of her only true friend—the imaginary Shadow Boy. There, she discovers a group of siblings living by their wits. They take her in, but while they offer the closest Ruby’s ever had to a family, it’s not always clear what’s real and what’s not—or who’s trying to help her and who might be a threat.

Told from shifting timelines, and the alternating perspectives of Ruby; her mother, Anna; and even the Shadow Boy, The Doll Funeral is a dazzling follow-up to Kate Hamer’s breakout debut, The Girl in the Red Coat, and a gripping, exquisitely mysterious novel about the connections that remain after a family has been broken apart.

Things About Writing I Wish I'd Known from the Beginning

  1. Always write the story that’s burning inside of you. This is especially important for a first novel because when you have yet had the validation of being published and it’s easy to stray off course. With my first novel, ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’ I reminded myself to stick with the story that came from the heart without getting too distracted by what everyone else was doing. That way, I figured, even it was never published at least I would have written the story that really meant something to me. I tend to think that passion has got to show through.
  2. It doesn’t matter if you’re nerdy about words—celebrate it. Growing up, I always kept it quiet that I was so into words it gave me a quiet little thrill to learn a new root or meaning. It seemed so studious (in a bad way). But for writers they are our currency and you can be out and proud. I have an old copy of Stevenson’s Book of Proverbs, Maxims and Familiar Phrases and my latest favourite in it is ‘hugger-mugger’—now, I think it just means things squashed up together but it’s usage seems to have come from the act of whispering secrets in close proximity, ‘He wolde haue hys faith dyuulged and spredde abrode openly, not alwaye whispered in hukermoker.’ (Sir Thomas More). Lovely. Now I’ve just spotted ‘Hum and Haw’ and the bottom of this page which is classed under ‘Indecision.’ That’s my next hour accounted for!
  3. Agents and publishers. Before I’d actually met anyone working in the publishing industry I had a very clear idea what their day might look like. I imagined dreamy offices with teetering piles of books. I imagined that for the most part that everyone working there would be reading for most of the day, possibly with feet up on the desk even, a steaming cup of tea on permanent go that might turn into a glass of Prosecco later in the day. The odd phone call would be made to say, ‘Congratulations dahling, it’s wonderful and I want to publish it (of course in my fantasy I was always the writer on the end of that phone call). I have since been sadly disabused of this notion. People working in publishing are ridiculously busy. If you send a submission in in all likelihood it will be read in bed just before the light is turned out, or on their Saturday afternoon when everyone else is sunbathing in the park. It’s a sobering thought and it concentrates the mind. If you have one shot at a submission, better make it the best it can possibly be because most likely it will be read quickly in the agent/publisher’s own time.
  4. Other writers are your friends. Because writing is such an interior, solitary business it’s very good to find your tribe whether that’s a writing group, a book club or simply on Twitter. I had no idea what to expect when I started doing public events but fellow writers that I’ve shared a platform have been pretty much unfailingly generous. It’s good to make these connections, attend other writer’s launches, pose a question in the Twitter sphere. I once heard the London book fair being described as watching thousands of introverts trying to be extroverts for three days. As a writer, chances are you may be an introvert so connecting with others is a chance to help (and be helped) taking your place in the writing world.
  5. Enjoy it. When I wrote my first novel I hardly dared to dream it would get published let alone anything else. I wrote it in a kind of furious passion and tried not to think too hard what, if anything, might become of it. Being published was an extraordinary experience and things started happening very quickly—reviews, shortlisting for prizes, general attention being given. In all honesty sometimes I felt a little bit like a rabbit in the headlights (see above on being an introvert!) Sometimes I felt like pulling the covers over my head which now I look back and think is a shame. I would say to anyone being published for the first time—you’ll never have a debut out again, relax, and just enjoy it all!

About the Author

Kate Hamer is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat, which was a Costa First Novel Award finalist, a Dagger Award finalist, an Amazon Best Book of the Year 2016, and a winner of the ELLE Lettres Readers’ Prize. She won the Rhys Davies short story prize in 2011 and the story was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She also has short stories published in anthologies such as A Fiction Map of Wales and New Welsh Short Stories. She’s written articles and reviews for The Independent, The Sunday Mail, and The New York Times.

Kate grew up in the West Country and Pembrokeshire and now lives in Cardiff with her husband and two children.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Doll Funeral—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Kate's question in the comments below:
What is your current favorite word and why?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kate and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I'm unsure of why, but lately I've liked the pronunciation of the word "respite." There's something sophisticated about it, but I can't put my finger on what! My favorite words change pretty regularly.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Bethany House!
Giveaway ends August 29th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
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Good luck!