The lovely Carmen at Bonnier Zaffre Publishing, contacted me and asked if I would take part in one of their blog tours. The company publishes such incredible books and Carmen and her team know that I usually say yes to all of them. However, the book for this particular blog tour isn’t just any book. It is a book that has such a powerful message. A book which, unfortunately, a lot of readers will resonate with. National Anti-Bullying Month begins on the 31st October until 30th November 2016; The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen, examines the outcome of such a devastating topic.
Joining me on the blog today with such incredible writing advice; is author Lesley Allen. But first, here are the all important book details and its beautiful cover.
Biddy Weir is a shy young loner. Abandoned by her mother as a baby, and with a father who’s not quite equipped for the challenges of modern parenting, Biddy lives in her own little world, happy to pass her time painting by the sea and watching the birds go by.
With no friends, no schoolbag, and, worst of all, no mother, Biddy is branded a ‘Bloody Weirdo’ by the most popular girl in her primary school.
What follows is a heart-breaking tale of bullying and redemption, of falling down and of starting again, and of one woman’s battle to learn to love herself for who she is.
Set in a fictional seaside town in Northern Ireland, the novel is a stark illustration of the extent to which bullying can affect us all, beyond just the victim and perpetrator.
Spare, dark and often unrelenting, The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is a story with universal appeal, which ultimately affirms the value of being different.
The e-book version is available to buy now from Amazon, but the paperback version will be released on the 3rd November 2016. To purchase a copy (or pre-order) click here: buy now.
Guest post by Lesley Allen – Help! I want to write a book…
So you want to write a book, but you don’t know how to start. Maybe you have all these ideas running around in your head; genius ideas. Bestseller ideas for sure. But the thing is, you haven’t a baldy notion how to deposit them from your head onto paper. Or perhaps you have no ideas at all. Zilch. You’d flippin’ love to have an idea, any idea, but you haven’t got the foggiest where to find one. What you do have, however, is an ache to write; a constant itch that consumes and distracts you, and drives you to stand in bookshops where you stare longingly at the shelves knowing that that is where you belong. But how the hell do you get there?
That was me: no ideas, but an overwhelming urge to write, an urge that had come at me in waves over the years, but I’d always swept away citing one excuse or another; until eventually it saturated me. So, I joined a creative writing class and finally, finally, my pent-up creative ache began to unravel. The relief almost made me cry. And this is my first piece of advice – I’d suggest you join a writers group, or take a creative writing class. It doesn’t need to be anything too highbrow or serious – just a gathering of like-minded people with whom you can comfortably share your work, experiment with different styles, and spur each other on. But if you do fancy highbrow and serious, then that’s good too. And if you can’t access a class or attend a group, then there are lots of online
courses you could take. It won’t be long before the ideas start to flow, or the ones that are there already begin to take shape.
The second thing I’d say is prepare to share. For me getting honest feedback was a vital part of my early writing steps. And there’s no point in sharing for feedback if you’re not prepared to listen to criticism – so grow a thick skin. Once the novel really starts to take shape, choose a couple of readers to share your early drafts with, people you trust to give you truthful and constructive notes. It’s imperative that this doesn’t become an ego stroking exercise, so don’t select someone who’s going to tell you how wonderful your book is, that you’re an absolute genius, and that, with a talent like yours, you’re bound to become a Booker winning, best-selling, multi-millionaire, purely because they’re your mother/partner/best friend. And if anyone utters the words, ‘you’re the next J.K.
Rowling’, run a mile. Unless said words are spoken by the publisher who’s about to sign you for a six- figure sum!
Once you have your finished draft, it’s time to look for an agent, which can be just as difficult as securing an actual publishing deal. Get yourself the most recent edition of the Writers and Authors Yearbook – a must-have for all aspiring writers. It’s the most important tool you will need for the next stage of your journey to publication. And research! You should already be familiar with your genre, so identify the agents who represent the authors you admire in your category. If your book is a comedy crime caper, don’t send it to an agent who focuses on romantic fiction. Draw up a ‘hit-list’ of around a dozen agents, send your cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters to the first three
or four. Some will reply, some you’ll never hear from, and if you’re lucky one will ask to see the full manuscript. If all twelve pass, don’t be too disheartened. Get the Yearbook out, and draw up another list. Remember that thick skin you needed back in the writing class? Well, dig it out and pull it on again.
And finally, keep going – no matter how long it takes. And when you reach the point when you think it’s never going to happen (and you will, time and time again) try, if you can, to remember this thing you read once about a girl (okay, a middle aged woman) who finally got her book published after several years, ninety plus rejections, and a withdrawn deal (yes, really!). It CAN happen. I’m the proof of the sticky pudding.
Thank you to Lesley Allen for writing such an honest guest post whilst showing everyone that it is okay to be a sticky pudding or even an apple crumble.
About the author:
Lesley Allen lives in Bangor, County Down. She is a freelance copywriter and the press officer and assistant programme developer for Open House Festival. Lesley is previous recipient of the James Kilfedder Memorial Bursary, and two Support for the Individual Artist Art’s Council Awards. She was named as one of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2016 Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) recipients for
literature. She will be using the award to complete her second book.