Marie Claire’s Event – How To Get Published Tour

So I’m going to type up my notes first and then write what I thought as it’s gotten quite long and I’d like to share my findings with you guys before you get bored about my wittering ons – although if you do read the whole lot.  Bravo! treat yourself to cookies and milk.

Freya North

  • Average word count 140,000 to a book.
  • There is no right or wrong to how to write  – dont be put off if someone plans and you dont – dont be scared to do it your own way
  • She uses the character to bring the plot to her
  • Be deciplined with how and where you write – Freya writes in a converted stable with her back to the view, facing a wall with her research and pictures of inspiration.
  • Do your research – very important
  • Use the smallest of leads for topics
  • Write because you want to tell stories not because you want to be a writer
  • Be your character’s PA
  • Learn to touch type – it is important to look after yourself, your posture as you write – if you dont you’ll damage yourself
  • Develop a thick skin – for years of rejection!
  • Freya doesn’t write for a particular audience.  She likes to write modern fairytails
  • Freya joked that she makes characters (especially male leads) for personal use seeing she’s single – almost like Kevin Costner’s field of Dreams – “If you’ll invent him he will come”
  • She spends 12 months (15 most) to write a book, this includes research, final reading to 3rd draft then submission.
  • She reconmends not to be tempted to over edit
  • Try not to faff nor obsess on word count
  • Focus on Quality
  • Thalia said it’ll help to get a quote from a published author on your work to give in with your submission – Freya said “Oh make it up!” like she did to get her first book published
  • Freya doesn’t read when writing, she spends her reading time on research but if she does read then its done on holiday

Jonathan Lloyd – The Agent (CEO, Curtis Brown)

  • There is a slim chance of you getting an agent
  • They get 200 manuscripts a week which are read by assistants and interns
  • Do make an effort with your pitch – do your homework on the agency you’re sending your manuscript to
  • Make your submission personal addressing the agent not the agency
  • Be clear of your genre – if you dont fit in somewhere compare yourself to an author
  • Look to your inspiration or books similar to your writing – look in their acknowledgments to see who their agent is then submit to them
  • Personalize and flattery gets you everywhere
  • Give a clear synopsis
  • Explain your genre
  • Make your covering letter look good – double space, single sided and typed
  • Work hard, get an agent and keep dreaming
  • On asked on the importance of a CV he said – Publishers but the author not the book, make it clear you have more than one idea, show the ideas, market yourself as a media savy promotable author, show enthusiasm
  • If you do get a deal it’s going to be a good deal – current climate means not a lot happening but when it does it’ll be serious
  • It is possible to be outside a genre
  • Finish book before submitting

Thalia Suzuma – The Publisher (Editor, Harper Collins)

  • Dont give up – develop thick skin
  • They receive high volumes of requests and have to pitch ones they like in a weekly meeting
  • They have to sell the idea to their collegues before a author gets published so if they could compare you as the next JK Rowling it would help – so make it clear what style/genre the writing is
  • Get 2600 submissions a year sign 15-20
  • Find a way to make your book stand out
  • Do as much research as possible
  • Use reading/writing groups as focus groups
  • Be self assured
  • Check out what people are reading
  • Research the market
  • Dont be tempted to write fan fiction – no copycat you wont enjoy it
  • Get feedback before approaching agent
  • Ask friends different specific questions when asking them to review work e.g. look for typos or plot flaws
  • Agents are crucial no unsolicited manuscripts are accepted
  • What editors want – Book other people enjoy – Quality of writing – plot – plausability – Accesability – can you relate? – avoid a disapointing ending – the voice is important – create an engaging voice from the author.

Miranda McMinn – The Journalist (Marie Claire)

  • Two ways non fiction wise – freelance or work from the bottom up
  • Freelance is hard as many places only use experience writers who they’ve used before!
  • FOMO as an example – Focus idea by giving it a headline, and acronym is good, include firm facts without writing the feature, research, step by step how you’d do it.
  • Submission by email – chase by email one week “Just checking you received my…” then a week “any thoughts” then a week “I assume you’re not keen hope you dont mind I’ll move the idea on”

When asked is it worth taking a creative writing course – Thalia replied yes it’s good taking the time.  Jonathan replied promoting the Curtis Brown course! which they have produced a few of their authors.

What I thought…

So the day had come.  I’d been waiting patiently for what seemed like forever – you see I dont get out much! My excitement grew as the day came closer.  My excitement continued after the event as I tried to jot my feelings down in my liberty art fabrics journal on a bumpy, swervy train.

Being a planner I had my day planned to perfection.  My outfit planned weeks in advance as I anticipated a reception the cross between Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada.  With my Prada sunnies does that make me the Devil?

I had work in the morning using some of my flex so I could leave early.  The day dragged as I waiting for 3 o’clock.  Left work and cursed a lorry turning in the road in fear of messing up my schedule.  I’d prepared everything the night before, making sure the shower hose was dangling down from it’s holder saving precious seconds to wash my hair over the side of the bath.  My clothes were picked and laid out at the end of the bed – more seconds saved.  I’d have my eyebrows waxed and hair cut at the weekend – no mono brow or frizzy hair a-la- Betty for me!  I made up time lost with the lorry and then some.  Pleased with my appearance my fiance drove me to the train station early and I made an earlier than planned train.  I do love planning even much so when it goes to plan or preferably ahead!

So I embarked on my first lone trip to London.  I live in the Sussex countryside and hardly (read never) use public transport.  London is a shock I click clacked in my Blue Suade KGs (with a bow) whilst fighting against the hustle and bustle of London – this wasn’t even rush hour!  My new phone proved useful as I navigated my way to the Marie Claire HQ, stopping to tweet a picture of the needle thingy to Neha.  I was surprised at how easily I stumbled upon it and how I recognised it.  Neha does has a talent for description.

It was easy to find my way I stopped at Pret for a Latte and to rest my feet.  Again thanking my obsession with planning, public transport being on time and me being early – I do hate to be late.

So I sat in the reception to the Blue Fin Building.  Tweeting Lindsey Kelk who confirmed the building was her inspiration for a scene in her recent book I Heart London which involves a magazine pitch and giant penis.  We were then called in.  Upto floor 10 where we were given champagne and nibbles.  We stood on an amazing terrace with an even more amazing view – Stunning.  Imagine being lucky enough to work there!?  I got talking to a nice lady; I admit and apologize I’m rubbish.  I cannot remember her name but we chatted and it dawned on me that I’ve come out of my writing closet and now not only am I an equestrian, distribution specialist; I’m also a writer! Gosh is this what it feels like when someone admits to friends and family that they’re gay?  It’s scary and I sympathize entirely.  It was good to chat although I kind of felt inferior like I was trespassing in a world I shouldn’t as with all my planning I hadn’t thought of answers to questions like “How often do you write?” or “What genre do you write?”

After about 15 minutes of chatting and a waiter hell bent on getting me pissed on champagne – which was the good stuff.  We were then taken into what I imagine to be the same room which inspired Lindsey.  I had the brainwave of recording the talk on my amazing new phone (Samsung Galaxy S2 if you’re interested) as although I wrote notes in my pretty Liberty journal (which the ribbon that ties it shut nicely matches the top I wore – un planned) I fear that none of my scribbles (alcohol induced) would make and sense.  So I sat in the red leather chair at the front.  Took up most of the space infront of me with my suitcase of a handbag, lovely joules coat and goodybag.  Heaven forbid should there be a fire during the talk the majority of people would break their necks falling over my hazardous obstruction.

Freya spoke first.  She looked stunning in a dark blue/navy skater style dress and gorgeous leopard print pump heals.  I love her hair.  She was so funny and well presented.  The was she came accross was perfect – so easy to listen to.  She spoke at the right speed – not to fast and is obiously either well practiced at public speaking or a natural.

Then Jonathan who too was funny and shared a dislike to the 50 shades trilogy – called it 3 books too much and “50 shades of shite”!  He gave lots of pointers on how to get representation from an agent.  He explained the difficulties one might find getting representation but in a way that wouldn’t discourage someone who’s driven towards their goal.

Thalia she had upper arms I’d give my left (I’m left handed) arm for!  Not only is she gorgeous she spoke such snese.  She explains things very well.  Explaining how a pitch works and her answers to how often she reads was funny.  It was a good insight if you should wish to work for a publisher what your day to day life would be like!  She appologised for not standing up due to her shoes hurting her feet – my kind of girl; she obviously prefers pretty things to practicality.  Which reminds me as I was walking from the car to the house I gingerly picked my way across the pot holled road in the dark.  My fiance commented that I shouldn’t wear impractical shoes.  To which I replied – they are practicle! They make me look pretty!

The last to talk was Miranda who I assume replaced Anna Saunders.  Now I’ll admit that she wasn’t or what she represented (Journalism) didn’t appeal to me.  But I still took something from away from it.  Even much so I now have the feeling that I could freelance an article about a very low calorie diet I was doing – especiall from a personal POV.  But I am earing towards keeping that as a fiction novel based on my experiences!  It was at that point in the talk that I felt the black bit from the end of the cap to my parker pen attached to my face.  I stuck it back on the pen when I noticed didn’t realise how long it was there on my face – hope noone else did!  Must have been subconciously wiping the end of my pen on my face whilst concentrating – good job it wasn’t the ink end!

The Q&A session at the end was good and it was all over too soon 😦 I said my thank yous, but chickened out of asking Freya to sign my journal – didn’t want to be rude.  Picked up my suitcase, coat and goody bag – felt a bit bag lady and left.  Managed to find my way back to the station – also didn’t manage to twist my ankle on the nobbly bits of pavement at road crossings – they’re hell for stillettos.  The train home was quite busy so had difficulty seeing a seat as I got on.  As I boarded the train a lady was blocking me to the left “You’re more than welcome to sit here” she said.  I smiled thinking that perhaps she was a special kind of train spotter that not only travels the country to admire the outside of England’s finest trains.  Such a special breed of enthusiasts traveling the country inside their obsession creating elitest sections on the train superior to first class where fellow spotters and fashionable aspiring writers like myself (hahaha) can sit “But a little boy has been sick” she finished.  The smile disolved from my face and I started to feel a little sick myself – heaven forbit should I smell it or I’d be sick too!  All I could manage was “No Thanks” and I hurdled a moron’s bike before he ran me over with the front wheel and found a seat next to a nice lady, who didn’t smell of puke or look like she was about too!

So all in all a great event which I’d recommend to any aspiring writer – Bravo Marie Claire for organising it all!

P.S well done if you read it all, sorry about the typos it’s late!!!


Rumours – Freya North


Everybody’s talking – but what’s really going on?

Rumour has it that Stella Hutton landed her new job thanks to family connections. She’s guarded about her past and private about her new life.

Over in Long Dansbury, there’s always a rumour circulating about Xander – but the eligible bachelor shrugs off village gossip.

Then a rumour starts that Longbridge Hall is up for sale. Home to the eccentric Fortescues, it has dominated Long Dansbury lives for centuries.

Stella is summoned to sell the estate. But Xander grew up there. His secrets and memories are not for sale. He’ll do anything to stand in Stella’s way. Anything but fall in love.



Another excellent offering from Freya North.  It will make you smile, laugh out loud and maybe even cry.  As with Freya’s other novels this one starts slow and steady, but still keeps you interested whilst it builds momentum throughout the book coming to a big ending.  The story line is fantastic.  Freya is such a good writer, she weaves an intricate story which at the same time is easy to follow.  I really enjoyed it.  This book has everything I look for in a book.  I fell in love with Longbridge as well as the characters – my favorite would be Will, he has quite  small part in the book but when he meets Lady Lydia for the first time it’s hilarious! There are a few unpredictable moments in the book – which I wont give away 🙂 but it’s nice to read a book where you haven’t guessed the ending, or one where you’ve guessed what’ll happen but carry on reading to found out how it pans out.  This book keeps you guessing throughout, so people might be more perspective than me but I’d like to think that I can spot an obvious ending when I see one – this book doesn’t have an obvious ending at all!

Such an entertaining read – no wonder Radio 4 chose it do be adapted into their Book at Beachtime series recently.  This book has inspired me to go back and read Freya’s earlier work again – so more Freya reviews coming soon!

I’m rating this as a must read

Chasing Pavements – Neha Yazmin

“It was very stupid but it was also very true. Mukti was in love with him and she didn’t even know his name.”

To introverted and socially withdrawn singer and songwriter Jamie, life has no meaning unless childhood love Sarah returns to him. Roaming through life without living it, shutting the world out, he has long since given up on a potential career in music.

It is only when he meets the unexpectedly inspirational Mukti, who instantly falls in love with him, that Jamie is lured out of the black hole he has banished himself to for years. Suddenly, his creativity knows no bounds and he feels torn – he has to see her, but what will she make of his tortured soul? Little does he know that Mukti has her own secrets and is just as troubled as he is. Her name translates as ‘freedom’ in her native tongue Bengali, but she is anything but free.

Torn between his unconditional love for Sarah, and his undeniable need for Mukti, Jamie’s life is in more chaos than ever before. And when his estranged mother Tanya becomes intent on sabotaging his relationship with Mukti, Jamie stands to lose the two women he cannot live without.

Set in contemporary London, ‘Chasing Pavements’ is a unique love story between two unique characters.

Now I wouldn’t put this book in the chick lit genre – I don’t know which it fits in.  Maybe Romance but without the sloppy/mills and boon aspect you expect from a Romance Novel.  Chasing Pavements is like one of a kind.  I can’t believe that this is the author’s first book, the way it’s written is excellent.  I was captured from the beginning of this story about Jamie and Mukti.  In the beginning I hated Jamie, I thought he was a selfish arrogant arse.  So selfish when he was hiding from Mukti – he was allowed to use her memory to get his “hit”.  Where she religiously everyday goes to the spot where they first met hoping to see him again.  But I suppose he got his comeuppance and I grew to love him towards the end.  I loved how Neha dragged out Jamie’s and Mukti’s secrets.


My favourite bit would be the ending – as you probably know by now I like a book that finishes well.  Especially if it’s a book I’ve enjoyed so much, you spend so much time with the characters, getting to know them, almost care for them and if I book doesn’t end well I feel a bit cheated and lost when I get to the end.  But I loved the ending to Chasing Pavements.  I won’t go on too much as I don’t like to have spoilers in my reviews; but everything got tied up nicely in my opinion.


I’m rating this book as a must read – Chasing Pavements isn’t published, but is available on iBooks and eBooks. 



What to read next – HELP!

Here I am sat on the sofa in my PJs using my dressing gown as a blanket trying to decide what to read next.


So, my question to you guys what should I read now?  I’ve downloaded six books to my iPhone which are:

Freya North: Rumours

Alexandra Potter: Do You Come Here Often

Stef Penney: The Invisible Ones

Neil Gaiman: Neverhere

Sarah Addison Allen: Sugar Queen

Erin Morgenstern: Night Circus


Please comment below, tweet me @rosiereview or find me on Facebook

Chelsea Wives – Anna-Lou Weatherley

This is Desperate Housewives meets First Wives Club set in the glamorous borough of Chelsea. On the King’s Road, revenge is sweeter than champagne…

They are the ultimate ladies who lunch: Imogen, the beautiful ex-model, Calgary, the glamorous, former fashion editor, and Yasmin, the feisty ex-party girl.

But life isn’t all champagne and canapés. Plagued by personal tragedy and united by failing marriages, they mastermind a shocking plan to turn the tables on their husbands.

Set against a backdrop of exotic locations, designer boutiques and London’s high society scene, these Chelsea Wives are about to join forces and risk it all for the ultimate revenge…

I really enjoyed reading this book – it’s a must if you’re a fan of Made In Chelsea like myself.  I loved the story – there are so many twists in this book it is unreal and the ending for me was perfect.  This book has everything – lots of glamour, fashion and money.  It also prooves that Money doesn’t make you happy. 

Such an entertaining read – I was gripped from the beginning and enjoyed every page.  I found myself relating to every character and willing the three main girls to succeed. 

If you like your chick lit to have a twist, compelling story and written beautifully than Chelsea Wives is for you.  It’s chick lit with depth – something I never thought possible.  Perfect holiday read.

I’m rating this book as a Must Read

On The Island – Tracey Garvis Graves

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments – instead of his friends.Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.
I read this book from the beginning with such vigor that my phone came everywhere with me; to the toilet, the opticians, everywhere.  I found myself trying to work out how I could read whilst I drove.  Which there isn’t a way not to mention illegal, short of employing a chauffeur which is impossible!  Early on when the rain extinguishes the first fire I shouted “Noooooo!” quite loudly which was just the very moment where the optician asked me if I’d like to come through to the examination room!
I love how it’s written from Anna’s and T.J’s perspective.  Also how the author has written each characters perspective.  In T.J’s chapters the language used is expected from a teenage boy.  Swapping back and forth gives the book pace which I found hard to put down.  I cringed, running my tongue over my teeth when T.J picks his braces off!
This book is so inspirational and also a bit daunting – I wish I could write half as good a book as this.  A first in what seems like a long while I finished this book feeling satisfied: that doesn’t happen often when I read a book I love so much.  The ending for me was perfect and I won’t tell you why or what I love most about the book as it’ll spoilt it for you – but I’ll just say I loved how it ends.
This book is definitely my July book of the month, I’m also rating it as a Must Read.

The Perfect Location – Kate Forster

Join three Hollywood actresses as they set upon The Perfect Location to create a film that will change each of their lives forever. The question is, can you guess which real life star each of these characters is based upon?

Calypso arrived to the party first. She glowed in the courtyard like a firefly, stunning in a One Vintage gold lamé dress from the 1920s that had been reworked for her. The beaded appliqué around the low neckline shimmered and a tulle detail around the skirt edged up over one side to reveal just the right amount of thigh. Worn with a pair of patent leather Christian Louboutin black slingbacks and her new evening bag from the Perugia flea market, Calypso shone in the dark.

Next came Rose: tall and slender in a peach georgette chiffon, halter-neck Chloé gown, she was beautiful. Her shoulders and arms were lily white, and she wore a gold Etruscan cuff on one arm and matching gold hoop earrings, which showed off her long neck. Her brunette hair was swept up into a ponytail and she had applied her makeup in such a way that it looked as if she had barely any on but her features were perfect. Rose was an icon and had the power and had real respect within the industry.

And finally Sapphira arrived and the whole table fell silent. She stood in the doorway of the courtyard, wearing a white leather Pucci mini dress, with a huge silver and black eagle on the front looking as if it were about to land on its prey. She wore no jewellery and long black hair hung loosely down her back. Her legs seemed to stretch forever, ending in a pair of Balmain suede calf-high boots, with five silver buckles up each side. Her entrance stunned the room; it was dramatic and powerful, not unlike Sapphira herself.

An intricate web of passionate pasts, addictions, lovers and secrets

I enjoyed the story of this book.  I liked how each chapter was either Sapphira, Rose or Calypso’s story.  I was easily lost in this book, I read it quite quickly wanting to find out what happens next.  There are a few twists to the story,  some I dont agree with – like the ending to Sapphira’s story – I wont spoil it for you but after what she goes through in the book her ending does seem rushed.  Another bit I found a bit unbelievable was when Calypso leaves Italy and refuses to speak to her boyfriend until she was ready to and then he had to bend over backwards for her!

The characters were well written – with all the switching from chapter to character I didn’t get confused.  In fact it hooked me more as I had to read more chapters to get to what happens next for each character!  I would have liked to have seen more interaction between the female characters.  This book is fantastic if you’re looking for a holiday read – although I read it in two days so maybe pick something else to take with you as well!

I’m rating this book as a must read mainly due to it originality and how it’s written.

%d bloggers like this: