Archive for publishing

Things to which I have been up

I think building her a snow throne may have given her ideas above her station.

I haven’t been making blog posts as often this year as I did last year. Partly because last year I had a baby who slept a lot, whereas this year I have a toddler with very firm beliefs about how often Mummy is allowed to sit at the computer before she gets to have a go too. Resulting in the very real possibility that anything I write will accidentally end up with ‘dfjgoehodnvlos!!!!’ in the middle of a sentence. Soon she will learn to type and I’ll probably have to implant a virtual iPad in her head or something, but for the moment, she’s mainly of use as an agent of chaos.

And partly because I’ve kept half-writing posts, then having a crisis of confidence about whether they’re too dull, controversial, niche, obvious, or all of the above. (All of the above would be quite a feat, admittedly.)

However, I have done a few things that you wouldn’t immediately be aware of from this page, so here they are:

- My eight-year-old has written some more stories for her bit of this site. I’m pleased I set this up for her, because it’s motivating her to finish stories rather than getting halfway through and then wandering off to kick trees. (Don’t ask.) I particularly like ‘Friday‘, which features grape-eating cutlery.

- I wrote some ebook reviews, and am in the middle of writing some more (but it’s taking a while – the good books are hard to write about and the bad ones are hard to read).

- I did a guest blogging stint for The F-Word and wrote three posts for them about musicals, porn genies and why I can, in fact, take a joke.

- I wrote a guest post for Choler speculating on whether David Cameron saw himself as a plucky maverick or as a Bond villain.

- I wrote a post on Sherlock Holmes and genderswitching for Bookshelf Bombshells, as part of their blog bonanza for the start of Sherlock series 2 in the US.

- I had my novel reviewed by The Future Fire!

- I created a Pinterest board of all the things you’d have had to own in the 1980s to equal one smartphone.

-  I started using tumblr, which turns out to be fun, although I may be reaching my social media threshold soon.

- I created The Almost Art Project: photos of found-around-the-house art accidentally designed by my children.

I’m trying to write a second novel in theory, but – well, see my first paragraph: it’s hard to find the time. So while I wait for my children to get older and less needy*, I’m working on a couple more genderswitching projects – an illustrated ebook of genderswitched Grimms fairy tales, and an ebook anthology of genderswitched extracts from classics including James Eyre, June the Obscure and The Picture of Daria Grey. To be continued…


*Sometimes people take things I say very literally. I would like to clarify that I am not spending my time resenting my children and waiting for them to get older. Well, not all of my time. Sometimes I sleep.  


Unexpected items in bragging area

Hello! I should really update about what I’ve been doing elsewhere, as it’s all got quite busy. (And also, I was desperate to use this title.)

In December I was accepted into a Guardian writers’ workshop, and a result of that I’ve written three articles for them – two are linked from my Guardian profile, and the third, on genderswitching the classics, is here.

I’m also guest blogging for The F-Word in January and have written one post for them so far, called “Can’t you take a joke?”

So life is busy (particularly since I have a job and two children and technically no free time) but fun. My most recent Guardian article, about the concept of Twitter as a virtual literary salon, led to a Twitter conversation with Neil Gaiman – which, admittedly, involved him very nicely letting me know that I’d got one of my facts wrong, but he was also sweet about the article itself.

It’s been interesting writing for the Guardian, the Huffington Post and the F-Word (and Choler, of course) as well as my own site. The nature of the comments has varied wildly depending on the site: the F-Word has been lovely, the Huffington has frequently involved people rather missing my point (which is the risk involved in trying to be funny on the internet). I have largely avoided reading the Guardian comments altogether because the commentators there are notoriously often very harsh (and also often miss the point), as I know from years of watching people take Charlie Brooker’s articles utterly literally.

In fiction-related news, I shall soon have some print copies of my novel for sale at £6.50 plus postage: please email fausterella at gmail if interested! The e-book remains available on Amazon etc.

Oh, and you can currently get 25% off my short stories or my genderswitched Austen book at with code LULUBOOKUK305.

I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I think 2012 is going to be exciting.


A novel proposal

Just a note to say that my novel has been published. Please imagine me grinning very, very widely. (This will be easier if you know what I look like. If you don’t, just imagine some kind of Cheshire-Cat type grin existing in isolation.)

I’ve written a bit about it here

and I’ve updated my Writing section to reflect this and a couple of other upcoming publications

and here is the website of Ghostwoods Books, my publisher

and just to finish off, here’s a link to the Amazon page.


Prejudice and Pride: Singing Jane Austen’s Song

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a husband.

There is a Borges story called Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, in which a Pierre Menard attempts to write Don Quixote, many years after it was written by Cervantes, based on having read the original some time ago and on reading around the history of the times. His version, Borges says, is startlingly different to Cervantes’, yet the same.

This is a very pretentious and presumptuous start to the project I’m about to describe, but in my defence, I read this story when I was about 15 and the idea of it hit me then like a ton of literary bricks: the idea that the same text can be entirely different in different contexts. (The story is about much more than that. But I was 15 and that’s what it meant to me.) You can change one thing – in that, fictional, instance, the writer of the book – and everything changes.

This concept was in my head, I think, when it occurred to me a few weeks ago that what I really wanted to do with my free time (ha) was to create a cover version of Pride and Prejudice with all the genders swapped round. So I did. It’s the same text. I’ve changed the minimum necessary – pronouns, titles, names, a handful of details to keep it broadly believable. I’ve called it Prejudice and Pride, of course. And it’s different. For (an obvious) example, the world of the book is now a matriarchal society. The women ride around on horseback, go where they like, own houses, lead households. The men – or, as they’re more often described, the boys – stay at home, play the piano, and know that marriage is the only realistic aim of their adult lives.

One thing I kept noticing was that, although it’s still a heterosexual book, of course, it feels much queerer, because the men in the book – some of them – are almost stereotypically gay men in some ways: talking about emotions, crying, flirting, exclaiming. And the women – some of them – are taciturn, butch, strong, in charge. The switch from ‘girls’ to ‘boys’ makes so much difference to the feel of it, too.

No scheme could have been more agreeable to Edward, and his acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful. “Oh, my dear, dear uncle,” he rapturously cried, “what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are young women to rocks and mountains?”

Some characters are easier to visualise in their new personas than others. Elizabeth Bennet is now Edward and I found that easy to imagine, perhaps because she was already active and outspoken. His brother John (previously her sister Jane) is gentler and far more passive, and I found it hard to see her as male. Which was interesting in itself.

The elopement of what is now Lyndon Bennet and Miss Wickham feels disturbing to me, where the original didn’t: an adult woman in the military seducing a sixteen-year-old boy? Lyndon in general has become quite a different person in my head to Lydia.

In Lyndon’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. He saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing-place covered with officers. He saw himself the object of attention, to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. He saw all the glories of the camp – its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, he saw himself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.

The rector Miss Collins (previously Mr Collins) works surprisingly well; her pomposity and heaviness are as convincing as his were. But look at Charles (previously Charlotte’s) reasons for marrying her:

Without thinking highly either of women or matrimony, marriage had always been his object; it was the only provision for well-educated young men of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative he had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, he felt all the good luck of it.

I said above that this was a cover version and that’s the description that makes most sense to me (though for Kindle publishing purposes I’m having to describe it as a translation). Cover versions of songs are often the same song with the genders changed. So I’m singing a song that was written and first sung by Jane Austen; it’s been remixed or sampled already by others (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure) and there are fan versions too, but mine isn’t either of those: it’s almost a straight cover with virtually no creative input from me. And yet, it’s also a fresh experience in some ways, familiar though it is. Certainly it’s given me a new look at a book that I must have read a dozen times during my life, including writing college essays on it. I think it’s worth reading.

Which brings me to the fact that you can buy the Kindle version of Prejudice and Pride: A Cover Version for 70p from Amazon here, or for $0.99 from Amazon US here, and you can buy a paper or PDF copy from Lulu for £7.50 and 75p respectively. I also plan to publish it on this site, chapter by chapter, but there are 61 chapters so it may take some time. The first one is up already, though.

Finally, I found this project so enjoyable that I plan to do it again soon with something else, maybe create an entire library of genderswitched works. Watch this space.


Fausterella and other stories

Katy’s Brief Guide To Writing and Publishing:

- Have ideas in your head

- Convert them into words

- Realise they are not the right words.

- Repeat step 2 until they become the right words.

- Realise that you now have all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order.

- Move the words around until they feel better.

- Become cautiously happy, or at least not actively unhappy, with the outcome.

- Take the collection of words (or ‘story’ as we in the trade call it) and turn it into a book via Amazon, Lulu, Smashwords,  a PDF file, ora dog-eared pile of paper held together with staples and hope.

- Sell it to people.

Some of the above steps are easier than others.

Still, here I am, somewhere near the end of the process, and I present to you:

book cover

Fausterella and other stories

There are nine in the collection, of which four have been previously published by ezines/magazines. The title story, Fausterella, is the story of a girl who sells her soul to go to the ball (well, what did you expect?) and the others include the perils of adopting a pet zombie, a village which commits a misguided ritual sacrifice, a puppet shop with a secret, a Yorkshire trip with horrifying consequences, and what happens when your dead relatives just won’t go away.

This is the Smashwords edition – HTML, EPUB, PDF, RTF, any way you want it. And this is the Amazon Kindle edition: Fausterella and other stories. Cost: $1.99, roughly the price of a large chocolate bar (one of the slightly more upmarket chocolate bars, but not anything really posh).

So! If you harbour a deep-seated distaste of or resentment towards me and don’t think I should be encouraged in any of my creative endeavours, I urge you not to do any of the following:

- Buy my book

- Read my book

- Write reviews of my book on Amazon etc (if you like it)

- Post links to my book on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, someone else’s blog, or other social media of choice.

If not, and if you can cope with buying a self-published book (and if not, no problem - hang on and buy my novel instead later this year) then I refer you to the list above for ways you can make me really, really happy. You want me to be really, really happy, don’t you? Don’t you? I thought so.


Time and the letter E

Like many of the people reading this,I was born in the mid 1970s.* It’s a very confusing fact. The 1970s seems like such a long time ago, but I’m only 36, and that’s still… sort of young, isn’t it? Or am I middle aged? Is 40 middle aged? Is 30 young? I have friends who were born in the 1990s: how can that be, when the 1990s were only a handful of years ago? What, in summary, has happened to time?

I think a lot of my generation feels weird about this. I’m not saying this makes us unique or anything, you understand, but we do have some justification in feeling a little unsettled. Many of my friends have careers that our school careers advisors wouldn’t have even known existed. I was a website editor for a while, in 2001. When I was doing my A-Levels, that phrase would have meant so little to me or anyone in my school that we’d have assumed it was perhaps someone who investigated the location of spiders. (A job, incidentally, that would be very very low on my list of career options.)


I remember these

There is technology not yet invented when I was born, that is now obsolete. My parents first used a video recorder when I was 14; my daughters will never have used one. (Although I do still have a cassette player and have taught my older daughter how to use it, so some of the old ways survive.) There is an MP3 player in a drawer in my house somewhere, like a forgotten high-tech fossil, and if either my parents or my children ever come across it, none of them will have any idea what it is or how to make it work. (I can’t remember how to make it work either, to be fair.)

So we have a responsibility. We are the custodians of our technology, our fleeting, new, antiquated technology, pressed like a flower between the black-and-white TV of the 1960s and the mind-controlled multidimensional virtual reality software that is doubtless going to be implanted in my children’s brains when they reach the age of 16, and we must guard and remember it, because it may define us.**


The information superhighway - another obsolete term I quite liked

Possibly the reason all this is on my mind is that I have just achieved my lifetime ambition, but not in a way my younger self would have recognised. My first novel*** is going to be published as an e-book, by Ghostwoods Books. Not only did e-books not exist when I was born, they didn’t exist (as far as I know) when my seven-year-old daughter was born. But here they are, e-books, in that weird space that isn’t physical but isn’t just in your mind either, cyberspace – an old-fashioned term in itself – and I’m going to be e-published as an e-author and tell people about it on email and be for sale on eBay (maybe). It may be the most common letter in the alphabet, but I could never have guessed that the letter E would become so important to my life. Here’s to being an e-person.

* This isn’t a comment about the median age of internet users or anything, just that the vast majority of my readers are people I know, and a lot of the people I know are roughly my age. In case anyone was wondering.

** And also because a lot of it was quite good, to be honest. I liked cassette recorders. You could stop playing music, and when you started again they would carry on playing from where they had stopped. (This feature is of course returning now we’ve stopped using CDs and started playing music on our phones instead, so I don’t really have any excuse for missing cassette tapes except nostalgia, but never mind.)

*** My only finished novel, in fact, although this will change.


Self publishing

You form a band and put out a record yourself, well, you’re indie. You’re doing it your way. Put out a film, you’re a DIY filmmaker, an independent artist, a guy who couldn’t be pinned down by the Hollywood system. You self-publish a book, and the first thought out of the gate is, “He wasn’t good enough to get it published”.

I’m reading a lot about self-publishing at the moment, mainly because of the above site. (Chuck Wendig is both a traditionally published and a self-published writer who has some very useful and forthright insights on both processes.) I share everyone else’s snobbishness about it, but I can see that things are changing, and the line between traditional publishing and self-publishing is a lot more wobbly than it was. Also, according to several articles I’ve read,* self-publishing can actually be more lucrative than traditional publishing, certainly more immediately lucrative. I’m not trying to write for a living – thankfully – but if I were, I’d be thinking hard about this. Of course, that only applies if you have or can find a market. The actual process of publishing a book is no longer the problem; convincing people to buy it is. And that applies even if it costs 99p, because there’s too much choice out there. I won’t bother downloading even free texts these days unless I think it’s worth it.

I suspect we’re in a period of transition, and in five years’ time self-publishing will either be totally normal and on a par with DIY film-making, or the goalposts will have changed so completely that the term isn’t even being used any more.

*See this suggestion to self publish and submit to traditional publishers simultaneously, and this: “I had seventeen different novels in six different genres under five different pen names in the mail at the same time to over eighty editors.”