Sunday, 11 November 2012


That's me at the moment.

My online persona has gone all quiet and deliberately so while I finish Blackbrooke II.

I'm sure any writer will back me up when I say that marketing can end up taking over your life. Part I of the Blackbrooke trilogy was released in July which sounds like a really long time ago, considering its now November but its been like being on a Presidential campaign trail since.

Well, may not but you get the picture.

The amazing thing about the rise of indie publishers and self-published writers is that more and more people are able to get their work out there when they were previously reliant on landing that elusive contract with a publishing heavy weight. No, we can now just upload work to Amazon if we so wish and start selling. This means that it's down to us, and us alone, to promote the hell out of our work or else we might as well not bother.

The drawback to such freedom of the pen is saturation. Everyone's doing it. For a reader its difficult to weed out the crap from the stuff that's actually worth reading and, as a result, they end up dismissing indie work altogether and sticking with work from tried and tested publishers.

As a result, you have to work extra hard to promote and this can, of course, detract from other important things. Like WRITING!

So, I'm giving it a rest while I get Part II of the trilogy completed and then I'll be back with a bang. Until then, enjoy one of the tracks that's powering the editing.

Oh and for those who don't know, the second book is called Blackbrooke II: The Guardian. Mini exclusive? Yeah, why not eh!

Thanks for sticking around. Watch this space.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Am I in it?


There you go. End of post.

Only kidding! I wanted to post about something I imagine a lot of writers encounter on their journey at some point. It's regarding those people on the periphery of your life who show an almost unhealthy interest in your work.

It's all very nice and supportive but then you get THE question.

Oh, you know the one....

Outsider: "Am I in it?"
Me: "Excuse me? Are you in what?"
Outsider: (Chuckles) "In your book of course! I read it cover to cover just seeing whether I got a mention."
Me: (Eyes dart to the side in panic) "'s a bit difficult to thank everyone in my life. I don't get a lot of words to play with for my acknowledgements and-"
Outsider: "No! I mean, actually IN your book. As in, one of your characters! Am I Denzil? No, no wait! I'm Noah aren't I?"


I've had it a lot from really random people so let me set the record straight.


No. No. No.

It's a strange assumption people assume they'll be in there. Don't get wrong, its amazing they think that. I suppose I'd just hate for it to work the other way with someone believing a crap character is based on them and that I'm having a pop.

My characters, along with the story, are completely fictional. All out of my crazy little brain.

Now, there is one teeny, tiny little thing. It's no secret that I have a pen name - I've been quite open about that due to my unpronounceable Polish surname. Not only did I steal my Mum's maiden name of Silver (thanks Mum!) but I dropped the 'G' from my first name, making me....


Little Miss Gemma Jones in Blackbrooke isn't based on me though, I swear! Well, not much anyway. I don't have her mean streak but I suppose there are tiny elements of the cheeky sod from me ;-)

I'd love to tell you I'd taken traces of myself and put them into Liberty Connor. I bloody wish. That girl is insanely brave whereas I'm a complete wimp (I can't even be in the same room as a spider, it's pathetic). In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion I created Liberty as the girl I've always wanted to be. It's funny because I actually try and spot elements of myself in her when I read Blackbrooke....

Wait a second.

I started this blog post having a rant about people who ask whether they made it into my books and yet, I've just said that even I look for myself in there and I BLOODY WROTE IT!

The mind boggles.

To conclude: You're probably not in my book...and neither am I, much to my disappointment.

Em x

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My graphic dreams

No, not those types of dreams...

Most writers envisage their novels as movies and I'm no different. I've cast the actors I want and I'm ready to take my place in the directors chair. It won't be easy seeing as I'm hoping to play one of my beloved characters, as well as write the screenplay and produce the entire thing but I'm sure I'll manage...

ANYWAY, Hollywood aside, I have another dream for Blackbrooke and that's for it one day to be adapted into a graphic novel.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm a graphic novel fangirl. In fact, if you quiz me, I'd struggle to give you my top five favourite graphic novels. And please don't get me on the topic of Marvel vs DC. Not because I'll bore you to tears but because all I'll be able to offer is a mumbled, "um...DC...I think."

Writing Blackbrooke, I was aware of how visual the story is, from the look of the characters through to the Crits. I'd sometimes see the characters as cartoons, other times as though it was a computer game.

It's niggled at me for a while and I decided to do something about it. Sooo, as a gift to myself and to anyone who may be interested, I employed top Manchester artist Dave Merrell to draw some of my characters and now...they're complete!

I'm going to be revealing the drawings imminently one at a time. Just need to decide what order to do it in. Decisions, decisions...

One thing I always maintain is that the reader is free to imagine the characters however they please and the drawings isn't a way of me telling everyone what to think. It's merely Emma Silver's interpretation of Blackbrooke - yours might be better! After all, Stephanie Meyer imagined new Superman, Henry Cavill as her Edward...

So, there's nothing left to say other than watch this space!

Thanks for reading,

Em x

Photo from

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Answering your questions....

It's my first video blog! Thought I might as well put my super duper laptop to the test at long last!

Thank you to everyone who sent in questions for me to answer - here's Part I of the Q & A session.

Apologies in advance for my rambling. May have to start scripting these....

Em x

Monday, 3 September 2012


I've commented on this on Facebook but I felt the need for a rant on here. Apologies in advance.

Novelist RJ Ellory was outed this week for posting fake reviews of his own books on Amazon. Oh, this has enraged me and I NEVER care that much about things like this. Each to their own, whatever works...blah blah blah.

HOWEVER, it's not the fact that Mr Ellory wrote fake reviews for his own books, it's that he wrote some that slammed his competitors. That's really poor show.

Since entering the writing community, I've been surprised at how supportive other writers have been to one another. I thought it would be the opposite - sniping and sneering at each others efforts. It's been a pleasant surprise to have other writers reading my work and sending me encouraging messages. In turn, I've read a fair few books of my writer friends and have loved them.

This is why the Ellory story has annoyed me so much. And before anyone says anything, I know it won't just be Ellory who does this. He's been caught and shamed but I reckon there are hundreds of other writers out there who have hopefully hung their heads in shame after reading the outrage this has caused.

As I said, if he wants to write his own 'glowing' reviews, fair enough. It's sad but harmless I suppose, it's the attack on fellow writers that sticks in my throat.

There's nothing worse than reading a bad review of your work. Us writers are sensitive souls but you have to take the rough with the smooth. I have read some words about Blackbrooke that made me feel sick and others that have made me cry where people have been scathing, either about the story or some of the characters. They cut deep and you can't help but wonder whether the bad reviews are 'right' and the good reviews are just people desperately searching for the 'silver lining'.

BUT that being said, you HAVE to just let the reviews roll in. As I've mentioned in a previous post, one of my fave writers Becca Fitzpatrick, no longer reads reviews of her work and I think that's the way forward.

What's kills me is Ellroy is a successful writer holding a contract with a major publisher so there's no need. He's talented and his legitimate reviews speak for themselves. I'm sure he won't do it again, especially after all of the furore, and I hope it makes other writers think twice.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Under pressure

...from myself.

There was a fabulous quote I read recently (the author escapes me, as does the exact quote actually) but it says something about a good book being worth waiting for. It's so true. I feel like I've been waiting an age for Becca Fitzpatrick's Finale but I know it's going to be well worth it.

HOWEVER, as an author it's really frustrating to take time writing a follow-up. I've had some fabulous feedback for Blackbrooke and I'm over the moon every time someone takes the time out to write a good review or send me a message telling me how much they enjoyed it. It's been so amazing that I'm now scared to keep people waiting too long for the next one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not deluded enough to think people can't sleep at night and are clambering to get their hands on the second one. Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games - Blackbrooke ain't (only in my wildest dreams) but there's still a fear people will lose interest while I'm furiously trying to finish Part II.

It's strange because I've known 100% how I've wanted to end the Blackbrooke Trilogy and that's NEVER changed, however the story getting there has adapted as I've gone on to write it. Writers (and friends of writers) will know you get an idea in your head of how you want something to turn out and eat, sleep, breathe it and wake up one morning and think, "Nah, I HATE that! Back to the drawing board!"

My tortured unofficial story editor formally known as Uno but totally outed in my acknowledgements to be Candice (sorry, your cover is blown!) bears the brunt of it. She gets Blackbrooke at the raw ideas stage so therefore is the most unfortunate of all of my little helpers. Bloody hell, no wonder she moved to Australia a few weeks ago...I'll be buzzing about something for ages and then *poof!* its gone and I've decided to go down a different route. I don't know how she keeps up.

I've nailed the story now though (I think) and just have to put it through its paces. I have a nasty habit of writing as though its a screenplay and including far too much dialogue. I just love interactions between characters and that's due to my impatience as a reader and tendency to get bored with too much description. I'm a character and conversation gal but I realise that's not the best way to set the scene in a horror tale so my work requires around four to five edits/rewrites myself, THEN I read it out-loud to myself, THEN I read it out-loud to the poor, tortured Candice, and THEN it goes to...


Tres! Or the acknowledgement-outed Rebecca. That woman is a reader. She has a top English degree from a top university and I bit my nails down to the wick when she had the first part of the trilogy.

I then read it through again a couple of times, both in my head and out-loud and THEN it goes to my publisher which means another few rounds of edits.

It's like writer bootcamp. Painful. Blood, sweat and tears go into it and you know what? There are still little mistakes and errors that worm their way in there. That's life. We're all human and by the end of the process, I'm so close to it that I could probably recite it word for word.

And so, after writing this blog, I realise its not the pressure of getting the book written that's bothering me, it's the fact that writing is just the very first step in the process. There's much more pain to come but I bloody love it and, if I could, would do it full time. As it happens, I can't quite afford to make that a reality at the moment but I'll keep ploughing on with Part II of the Trilogy as well as continuing to promote Part I.

Another huge thank you goes out to everyone who has bought the book and taken the time to review or get in touch with me. I'll be answering your questions on my next blog which I may do as a video as I have a tendency to ramble!

Back to the grindstone...

Em x

PS. Here's what's currently getting a battering on the unofficial Blackbrooke II soundtrack. It pretty much sums up Liberty Connor at this stage in the tale and you'll find out why when the book is released ;-)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Goodbye Liverpool

This is a blog about my writing journey but I felt the need to give a nod to Liverpool for this post.

I'm moving to Manchester for a while where I'll be back in my childhood room. Something made all the more strangely exciting by my dad telling me he'd found my stash of Point Horror books. That's the rest of the summer sorted...

As much as my friends and family took the mickey out of me for moving to 'Scouseville', my four years here have been the most productive of my life. I started writing again after a rather long sabbatical which has resulted in a published book and continued work on the rest of the trilogy so I'll be forever grateful.

I've met some great people too and reached interesting conclusions about my working life which I never expected. There have been rollercoaster moments of course (that's life after all) but I wouldn't change any of it.

I've been messaged some questions on Twitter from fellow writers and readers of Blackbrooke and I thought one of them was quite fitting for this post:

Do you go anywhere to write? 

I absolutely have to get out and write a lot of the time or else I get too distracted by the lure of the internet, especially after Blackbrooke launched and I've been on the promotion trail.

I usually head out to a fabulous Caffe Nero in Liverpool. I can't remember the street but it's opposite San Carlo (if you're interested!). They make great coffee, have friendly staff and these amazing window seats which means I can indulge in my hobby of people watching.

I'm a huge coffee fiend and despite my best efforts, I just can't make a cup as good as they do on the high street (bar one very famous green logo place which is wonderful if you like your coffee weak and cold...) so that's where you'll usually find me, smashing away on my laptop with my headphones jammed into my ears.

I'll need to find some new haunts in Manchester so I can get this pesky Book 2 finished. It's been a tough one as I want to keep it exciting throughout and there's A LOT I'm trying to get in there. Book 3 is very straight forward, so I really do have a problem middle child :-S

I'll keep you posted on the progress...

Until then, I'm really excited to see the images of the Blackbrooke characters that the very talented artist Dave Merrell is currently drawing for me. Bizarrely, I feel nervous when I see the initial sketches as its almost as though I'm finally meeting these characters that I love so much. I'll be revealing all very soon so watch this space.

All there is to say is goodbye Liverpool, and Manchester....I'm back!

Em x

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


I've already said thank you to everyone for their support so far after launching Blackbrooke but this post is slightly different.

I warn you now, I fear I may get a little bit 'deep' here...

It's been a complete surprise that everyone has been so nice and supportive. Some are people I barely know, others have had to listen to me bang on about it for months.

Before Blackbrooke, for some reason, I didn't really feel as though many people cared. Not in a weird 'please love me!' kind of way, just in a sense that I always felt as though I could pass under the radar. An example being that if I met someone in a work environment and then saw them again a week, month, or year later, I wouldn't approach them and say hello because I'd be quite sure they wouldn't remember my face.

It's lent itself rather well to a life of solitude as a writer!

However, the book launch has really made me sit up and notice the people who have took time out of their day to wish me well.

It's all well and good to coat yourself in a suit of armour and raise your sword against the world but remember, you're never alone. No matter how much you believe that's the life you're meant to live.

Maybe Blackbrooke won't set the world on fire (although I damn well hope it does) but if it doesn't, it's taught me there are people who genuinely want the best for you in this life and that's a lovely feeling.

No pics or gimmicks with this one.

Thank you once again, very much.

Em x

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The plug

Blackbrooke is out! Out now! Go forth and purchase!

What an amazing feeling it is to know your book is available to buy and ANYONE can read it WHENEVER they want. It's scary but you know what? I'm sick of saying that.

When people have asked me how it feels that's been the first word to escape my lips.


Oh come on, Em. Get a bloody grip. It's not really that scary is it? After all, the scary part is over (editing for me, by the way) and this is now the nice part I should be enjoying. And I absolutely, 100% am.

Launch day was a real success with people really getting behind Blackbrooke and supporting the living daylights out of it. So much so, that it reached #5 in the Amazon Kindle chart for its genre. Not too shabby for a story I came up with over a glass of red wine...

I have a lot more plugging to do and I won't lie, Goodreads is a social media platform I haven't really explored yet but I will. All in good time of course...

I've been absolutely floored with the support I've received from the YA bloggers who have taken part in the Blackbrooke blog tour and a big thank you goes to Carmen Jenner of Book Me! who has put together the tour. Oh, here I go again, saying 'thank you' - honestly, I get one book published and I'm suddenly clutching my Oscar and sobbing my gratitude.

So, I'll keep this short and sweet and just remind you YET AGAIN of where you can buy part one of the Blackbrooke Trilogy...

UK Amazon
Amazon Worldwide
Smashwords - for those without a Kindle
iBooks coming soon...

And for those of you who have already bought it, I'd like to say a HUGE thank you!!! You rock ;-)

Okay, I've got to get back to editing part two of the Blackbrooke trilogy now...

Em x

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Seven days... go.

Blackbrooke is being unleashed into the world in a weeks time and I'm getting excited. I have a blog tour planned courtesy of Book Me! and the fabulous Carmen Jenner who, lucky for me, really likes the book and gave it a glowing review. Phew! 

Part of the blog tour involves Blackbrooke reviewed by all of the bloggers signed up and I think maybe, just maybe, I'm getting used to the idea now. So far, I've had good feedback. Even the negative points have been constructive or have caused me to utter 'fair point!'. 

I read an interesting post on Becca Fitzpatrick's blog on how she deals with negative reviews and the answer is, she doesn't read them. When she described what she was like when Hush Hush was first printed, it reminded me of how I am at the moment. Overly-excited and desperately wanting everyone to love Blackbrooke as much as me. Like a puppy. Reading Ms Fitzpatrick's blog has really caused me to chill out about the reviews. After all, you have to be in it to win it, and take the rough with the smooth (or any other suitable cliches you can think of...)

Another thing, It's only since I've been involved in the blog tour that I've noticed I know absolutely NOTHING about blogging. NOTHING! Hence the fact you're now looking at the sparkly new Emma Silver website. My good friend Candice Cooke has designed the banner for me (ain't she clever?) and I think its more fitting to who I am and what I write about. 

You see, that's the thing - I need to start thinking a bit more 'commercially' now I suppose. I set up this blog as 'Emma Silver Unpublished' documenting the trials and tribulations of an unpublished author and the struggle to get my work noticed by an agent. It was an online diary that no one read and I didn't care if they did. It was for me. 

Now (and please bear with me, I'm repeating what I'm constantly being told) I'm Emma Silver, author of Blackbrooke. It means people might actually start visiting my website now. They might read this guff. Might have to go back and make some revisions...

So, here's my attempt at a 'website'. I'll still be blogging just as honestly as before. 

I'll keep you posted in the run up to the launch.

Em x

Saturday, 16 June 2012


I've just hit send to get what I think is the final edit for Blackbrooke over to my publisher and had to pour myself a drink. The acknowledgements and dedication have gone over too. And suddenly, all is quiet.

Well, not completely quiet. I've got Book 2 taking up a lot of headspace with its rowdy ideas and drama. Sometimes the noise gets so loud I just want to lower my head onto my keyboard and let out a groan.

"Hell hath no fury like your second born!" My yummy mummy friend said to me recently.

Yes! I agree. No, I don't have children but I have...a book. Something I've placed my absolute heart and soul into for the last eight months.

The more I thought about each step of the way, the more the comparisons couldn't be denied (DISCLAIMER TO MOTHERS: yeah, seriously, I'm not comparing typing a book to squeezing a child out of my body but you get the picture. Please don't kill me...).



All great conceptions are booze fuelled aren't they? I'd hit the red wine with Uno and turned to her, halfway through the night.

"Let's watch Twilight!"

We used to (and still) do this a lot. Oh, it's not just Robert Pattinson, it's...well, it's Carlisle as well for me.

It was during that time, I was hooked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer again and comparing the two was boggling my brain.


In Buffy, they were grotesque and her job was to kill them. They burned up in the daylight, stake through the heart etc. However, in a heart-wrenching twist of fate, she falls in love with Angel, a vampire.

Oh dear. What a bummer.

And you'd have to be living under a rock if you're weren't aware of Bella's story. Falls in love with ridiculously stunning vampire boy who can't step into the sunlight because he'll explode into a cloud of....I'm sorry? What's that?...Oh, my apologies...*ahem* he'll go glittery and sparkly.

I'm a sucker for it. Ever since I watched Beauty and the Beast when I was six, the girl-meets-monster-falls-in-love-with-monster story has made my heart ache.

However, on that particular night I had a thought that I voiced: "What if there's a story where the girl doesn't fall in love with the monster? What if the monsters are exactly as the name suggests, monstrous?"

Uno had blinked at me as I continued to prattle on about creating a story about a town who lived by a set of strict rules to avoid meeting a sticky end with the creatures they shared the town with.

I lay awake that night, thinking about it. Drawing up the first ten rules of a fictional town in the north of England.

And there it was. The baby was made.

The pregnancy

I'm one of the smug mums who had an easy pregnancy.

The book was written within four weeks and I sat back triumphantly when I was near to the end thinking I'd done it. I'd created a young adult horror book.

The baby

Okay, the reality wasn't quite that simple.

The thing kept me awake until I was averaging barely four hours sleep a night. Sometimes it just cried for no reason. I couldn't tell whether it was the characters that bugged me, the storyline, the pace, the style, or just a combination of all of it.

I'd stare at the blinking cursor on the screen with my bleary eyes. "What?!" I'd demand, pulling at my hair. "What do you want me to do?! I give up! I've read you four times and you're still not right!"

The absent father

Uno was there for the conception but the majority of the work was left for me, being the writer and all. Occasionally, she'd pitch up at the weekend or late on a weeknight and I'd read some out to her.

"Hmmm, I wouldn't do it like that," she'd utter nonchalantly.

"Sorry?" Would be my response through gritted teeth. At the same time I reason I should probably have a shower and get dressed given it was the afternoon. Don't lose it, Em. "What do you mean?"

"Well," she'd say, being helpful, "why don't you try it this way..."

My nostrils would flare and my face would be practically puce. How dare you?! I'd want to scream. I'm the one who spends all of the hours on this book! You just swan in here when you feel like it and tell me how to write it?!

Instead, I'd force a smile. I'd be stupid to try and do it on my own. I needed her help.

Starting school

"Published!" I'd screamed. "Blackbrooke is going to be PUBLISHED!!!"

Uno and me had celebrated as though Blackbrooke was the first book that had ever been published in history. I called the proud grandparents who were delighted and also the other casual father figures in its life, Dos and Tres.

Uno, Dos, Tres.


Three men and a baby?

Leaving home

One minute, I'm typing at my desk furiously writing the first 100 words and then I'm clicking send on the final draft.

I've been engaging with people in social media to try and spread the message in time for its launch on 19th July and its currently being read and reviewed by Carmen from Book Me!

I sat in work the day the publisher sent the book over to her and my palms were sweaty. I pushed the home button on my phone to reveal the front cover artwork every five minutes, smiling at the comforting sight.


"Yes, Uno."

"About Blackbrooke...I'm not sure I'm happy about other people reading it. I just don't feel ready to let it go yet. It feels weird people will know those characters that aren't us."

"I know...but I suppose we have to let it go at some point as frightening as that is."

So, as I inspect myself in the mirror and think it's probably about time I lost the 'baby weight' from sitting on my ass for months and just writing, I feel a sense of overwhelming pride, loss, fear, joy and pretty much every other emotion you can imagine.

I'm happy to let Blackbrooke go into the big wide world but I can't promise I won't shed a tear as I wave furiously as she heads off into the sunset.

I won't cry too hard though as I know I'll turn around to face Book 2, folding his arms and demanding my attention.

Oh well, perhaps the baby weight will be here a bit longer.



Here's a lovely song that I've been tweeting about but thought I'd share on my blog.


Friday, 1 June 2012

"It's all happening..." of my favourite lines from one of my favourite films.

Nothing could be more fitting right now. You'll know from my last blog that I landed a publishing deal with Crooked Cat for my first novel Blackbrooke and I've been riding the roller coaster ever since.

So, where am I up to now? I've completed my first set of edits (painless, thankfully), worked with the publisher on my front cover artwork, and started to put the wheels in motion to promote Blackbrooke when it hits the virtual shelves from 19th July.

All the while, I've been busy scribbling the second part of the trilogy and trying to hold down a full time job. It's been a whirlwind to say the least and I'm loving every minute of it. This is what its all about after all.

Struggling to find enough hours in the day, I committed to several late nights to try and clear the work from my full time job. Several nights ago, it got to around two in the morning and I'd drained an entire pot of strong coffee but was still feeling sleepy. Determined to stay awake, I decided to take a break from work and look at something else.

Something I'd been putting off.

Yes, those all important acknowledgements. Oh, don't get me wrong, the self-indulgent bliss isn't lost on me. After all, I'm a girl who used to stand in front of the mirror with a can of hairspray clutched to my cheek, uttering breathily, "I never expected I'd even win an award. And an Oscar no less! And BEFORE my sixteenth birthday! I'd like to thank god..."

Whenever I read a book and stumbled upon the acknowledgements, I'd feel a pang of envy, hoping one day I'd be able to do the same and give thanks to all of my nearest and dearest.

With this in mind, you'd imagine I'd be in my element, but that wasn't the case. Firstly, my editor told me to keep it around 400 words. Now, I'm a writer of a rather substantial novel. A novel that's part ONE of a trilogy. Basically, if there's something I can say in 400 words, I'd rather say it in 4,000.

So, 400 words...

That's okay. Plenty in fact.

I got to typing and sat back triumphantly after shedding a tear or two along the way.

Word count = 816.

Oh shit...

Alright, no problem. I'll simply chop it down a bit. Take out the odd word. As long as I didn't have to remove a person, all was good in the world. I did just that and cut out some of the more cringe-worthy bits, reasoning that I'd probably regret them anyway.


Word count = 759


Serious cosmetic surgery was in order and I've managed to finally get it to around the 400 mark. I've taken a lot out, but I figured I could just tell some of the people how thankful I am. You know, the gift of speech? I might be out of practise but I think I remember how to engage my tongue and hold a conversation.

Reading over my acknowledgements still makes me cry which officially makes me a soft sod these days. Since signing my contract I've been a bit of a blubbering wreck whenever I think about Blackbrooke. And god help me when a sad song comes on the radio...

So, as part of my promotional work I've launched a Facebook page for Blackbrooke, Twitter and been interviewed on a fabulous YA book website. I'll include the links in case you're interested but, trust me, I won't become a shameless self-publicist on my blog.

If you have any inkling that I do then please feel free to slap me with a wet fish.

Expect more blogging in the coming weeks as my story of getting Blackbrooke released unfolds.

Wish me luck...


My links:

'Like' my Blackbrooke Facebook group -
Follow Blackbrooke on Twitter - @blackbrooke_i

Check out my interview on Book Me! Thanks again, Carmen :-)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Here we go...

Hold on tight, Em. You're in for quite a ride...

For those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you'll be more than aware that I signed a deal with Crooked Cat Publishing a week ago.

Yes, really.

The email confirming it came in at the same time as a rejection from an agent which made it all the more sweet. I've been riding a fabulous wave of excitement since, posting things here and there and making those all important excited phone calls to those who've been on the journey with me.

Now the work begins. I'm not talking about the necessary edits, but preparing to promote the hell out of it and deal with the (inevitable) crap reviews. I do imagine I'll get some good reviews too and I'm hoping the good ones will out-weigh the bad, however, I've occasionally heard myself when I've read a young adult horror book. I'm quite brutal.

I loved the Hunger Games with a passion. So much so that I felt quite depressed when I'd finished the trilogy as I felt nothing could compare. But when my friend finished them and I finally had a Hunger Games buddy to talk to, I found myself ripping parts of it to shreds. Don't get me wrong, I'll stand by the fact that I bloody loved those books but I suppose I've read so many of this genre that I like to think of myself as 'in the know'.

Point Horror books used to get the Emma Once-over too. I sometimes think the more you like something, the more inclined you are to slate parts of it. It shows there some passion there and that its affected you in some way.

Okay, is this me trying to mentally prepare myself for bad reviews? Am I babbling? Wouldn't be the first time I babbled on my blog...

Edits of Blackbrooke aside, I'm currently working hard on Book II (or as its officially called, Blackbrooke: The Guardian) and I'm grateful to have it. If Blackbrooke was a one book affair, I'd be feeling a lot more fear I'm sure. There would be a definite sense of finality as soon as it went on sale. Almost as though I was gathering all of my characters and putting them in a boat and watching them sail away.

With Book II, I'm back in the fold and at ground level with the characters. The best way to describe the way my mind see's it is when you played computer games as a kid (or maybe now?) and the character died but you got taken back to your save point. OR! If you play my favourite arcade game House of the Dead and you die but get the ten second window to put more money in and come back to life. That moment when the coins go in and you raise the gun back up to the screen at the baying mob of zombies, just waiting for the action to kick off again...well, that's the feeling I get with Blackbrooke II. Right back in the lions den.

Well, I really should get back to it. Times ticking and all.

Many thanks to everyone who's wished me luck along the way and I hope you stay with me to live through the rollercoaster that's inevitably involved in becoming a published author. For those who haven't checked out my author page on the Crooked Cat website then you can do so by clicking here.

I shall leave you with a beautiful song I've just discovered.

Em x

Sunday, 6 May 2012


I sometimes get asked where I get the ideas for my characters from. There was even a post on that very topic this week on an online writers group I'm a member of .

The answer for me is very simple. I take them from real people I encounter on a daily basis and steal little elements from here and there. Speaking as quite possibly one of the world champion people watchers, I often spend time sitting in coffee shops and watching the world go by (usually when the cursor on my laptop is blinking furiously at me to actually do some writing). 

Case in point. Yesterday evening I was running late to catch a train to Manchester to meet my dad and his girlfriend for a drink. I was stressed. It was my first meeting with his girlfriend and I was miles away from the train station and then faced an hour train journey, so I was definitely not going to make a good impression. 

I usually walk everywhere but, on a whim, decided to hop on a bus. After all, that had to be quicker than walking the two miles to the station, right? Well, it was. Marginally. Instead of heading straight for the station, I got an eye-opening tour of Liverpool's suburbs. My headphones were blasting in my ears and I suddenly noticed I was the only passenger on the bus, and the driver was talking to me. Snatching out the headphones, I heard the driver teasing that the traffic was all my fault and, as soon as I opened my mouth to protest, I got the usual Scouse response:

Driver: "You're not local are you?"
Me: (Gulp) "No, I'm from....(do I? Don't I?)...Manchester."
Driver: (Curled lip) "A Manc, eh?" 
Me: "Mmm hmm."
Driver: "Whereabouts in Manc?" 
Me: "Edge of Salford, near Bolton." 
Moment of awkward silence ensues. 
Driver: "Hey, Bolton?" 
Me: "Yes."
Driver: "See that prostitute there?" 
Me: (Suddenly strangely giddy about the prospect of seeing a real life hooker in broad daylight. I stand up a peer out of the window like a meerkat) "Oh my god..."
Driver: "She's a right troll, isn't she?" 
Me: (At a loss for words) "She's wearing a bikini top and a leather jacket..."
Driver: "Yeah, that's her patch. You see that corner there? That belongs to an eighteen year old Cuban boy. He earns more money than the women." 
Me: (Now stood next to the driver) "Fascinating. I didn't know this was...that they...that its the...(lower my voice to a whisper) light district."
Driver: "Yeah, be careful walking around here. If you set foot in their patch, they'll chase you."
Me: "Shit..."
Driver: "I won a prostitute once." 
Me: "I'm sorry?" 
Driver: (nods) "Yeah. It was 1976 and we were playing pool. This pimp with a handlebar moustache wanted to take me on and said if I won I could have one of his girls for the night." 
Me: "And you won?"
Driver: "Yep. He said I could have the next whore to walk into the bar. I was praying she'd be a looker but she was an absolute hag."
Me: "So, what did you do?" 
Driver: "Asked for a triple whiskey instead." 

I was still laughing as I boarded the train. Honestly, I find people fascinating and I hold conversations in my head for years. I must have been having a day for it because when I got the night train home, there was a little boy sat across from me, dressed in a Liverpool kit:

Boy: (Sighs) "I've been everywhere today."
Me: "Where?"
Boy: (Counts on fingers) Liverpool...Manchester...erm, that's probably it." 
Me: "Wow...(looks around me, wondering where his parents are)...are you on your own?"
Boy: "No. My dads sat over there but he's really drunk and is sleeping again." 
I turned and looked to see a man wrapped in a Liverpool FC flag, snoring, several seats behind me.
Me: " know, you're going to have to be really nice to your dad in the morning. He likely to have a sore head."
Boy: "No, he's usually okay. When my mum drinks, she doesn't wake up until the middle of the afternoon." 
Me: (Trying not to laugh) "Oh dear...well, you look very smart in your football kit." 
Boy: "Thanks. I'm eight." 
Me: "I'm twenty-seven." 
Boy: "I'm going to Benidorm next year." 
Me: "Lovely, are you excited?"
Boy: "No, it's a bit early to get excited."
Me: (Smiling) "I suppose you're right." 
Boy: (Sighing again) "Anyway, this is my stop. Nice to meet you. (Walks away) Come on, Dad. This is us." 

He was still waving furiously at me from the platform as the train pulled away. 

I spend a lot of my time with my headphones jammed into my ears, planning my storylines but I've decided I'm going to make a conscious effort to listen instead of just watch from now on. You never know who you'll meet and what may end up working its way into a book in the future. 

The cheesy thing about my writing that I've said a couple of times (and then winced as soon as the words left my lips) is that I don't choose the characters, they choose me. I tend to think of a story that I want to write about. With Blackbrooke for example, I wanted to write about a town where humans had to live alongside creatures and follow strict rules in order to survive. The first thing I did was write the rules and then the characters started to seep into my mind. Everything, even down to their names, feels beyond my control and I like it that way. 

I remember when I was writing Driving Exile, a complete departure to my preferred young adult genre, that I'd be disappointed with the actions of some of the characters. Instead of deciding myself what they would do, I just let the story unfold by itself, even if I didn't like the direction it was going in. Trust the gut, that's what I say! 

In creating the second and third part of the Blackbrooke trilogy, I've had to face some difficult 'truths' that I'm not a huge fan of. With one character in particular - I want them to remain a certain way but that's not what my mind is showing me so I have to suck it up, write it, run it by my unofficial story editors and see what the verdict is. 

Speaking of which, I really must get on with some writing now and quit stalling....

Thanks for reading,



This pic reminds me of my lead character in
Blackbrooke, little Miss Liberty Connor

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Who's driving whom?

It's no secret that Blackbrooke is part one of a trilogy. A trilogy I planned, albeit loosely, and wasted no time getting to work on the second book as soon as I'd finished the first. The word count got to about 40,000 and I stopped.

You see, when I wrote my chick-lit novel Driving Exile, I loved that I could let the characters take the reader by the hand and guide them in whatever direction they chose. The back story surrounding Driving Exile was very simple as it really was all about the characters, whom I still love dearly. They without a doubt drove the story from beginning to end.

I approached Blackbrooke Part Two in this way, after all, the readers knew the characters already from the first book. They want to be on the journey with them as they grow and develop, don't they? Well, of course they do. Only, I'm not writing a story about a girl who goes on the road with a rock band now, instead I'm concocting (what I hope is) a clever horror for young adults that has more layers than a gypsy wedding cake.

Getting the back story right and ensuring there are no glaring holes in the plot is essential for me to pull it off. So now, I have a different situation whereby the plot is what drives the story, not the characters. Instead, I have to get the plot water-tight and then think about how my characters will react to what's going on around them.

It's challenging as I'm a writer who loves to discuss relationship dynamics and explore interaction between characters but I just don't think I can afford to mould the plot to suit character development. So, I now have to resist the urge to get back in front of my computer and keep typing and instead take a step back and write the Blackbrooke back-story as well as explanations into why things are the way they are in this fictional town.

I'm then going to pass this back-story onto my lovely friends (aka story editors) and have them play devil's advocate and pick holes in it to challenge me and make me address any issues before I develop the story.

It's frustrating because it feels like such a slow process but it'll be worth it in the long run. I was commenting that I believe the second book of a trilogy is perhaps the most important. Yes, the first one needs to sell it but the second is a real investment for the reader and they want to be bowled off their feet in order to make Book Three an absolute must-read. It can't just be a sandwich book, put in there for the sake of it so I need to get it right.

Exclamation point.

On a separate note, the Agent Hunger Games is still very much in effect. Of the 18 initial submissions I sent to agents, there are 14 remaining (three rejections, one message failure). Keep your fingers crossed that I get some positive feedback from some very soon. It's getting tiresome thinking of inventive ways to kill the one's who've rejected me. I'm thinking the next one could be death by flying ninja star....

May the odds be...ah, you get the picture.

Keep smiling,

Em x

Monday, 16 April 2012


The number 18 plays a large part in my young adult novel, Blackbrooke. It's an ominous number that's to be dreaded. When the book is on the shelves, you'll find out why (winking smiley!).

Now, I face my own dreaded number 18.

Without realising it, I sent Blackbrooke out to 18 agents over the weekend. When I counted them up I couldn't help but wish it would have been 17. Then I could have given my blog post a name I thought was really clever (but actually just naff) like 'Edge of Seventeen' one of my favourite songs and sitting firmly on my Blackbrooke playlist.

Now, this is why you need to be careful what you wish for...

Yep, less than two days after sending it off, I've had the first rejection. A bloody generic one as well. Ah, it's OF COURSE to be expected. I know that. However, I'm on a bit of a downer about coming to the end of the fabulous Hunger Games trilogy which left me feeling rather empty. Rejection doesn't feel particularly wonderful on top of this.

Which is why I've devised a little game. Treat the agents like contestants on the Hunger Games. Oh, I know that's sadistic and I promise I won't imagine firing a bow and arrow or hurling spears into the bellies of the ones who dare to reject me (RIP Rue), but you have to make your own fun.

Oh, and I was Tweeted by a fellow writer, the fabulous Nicci Cloke, and tagged in her blog! Made me feel rather special. She wanted me to take part in Lucky 7 and I'm going to do it. I like the fact there's a lucky number to be had in the world after my woeful 18. I'll make the same apologies as Nicci if you writers have been tagged before but let's give it a whirl. Here are the rules and you can also read Nicci's blog post on it here:

- Go to page 7 or 77 of your current manuscript
- Go to line 7 
- Copy out the next 7 lines or sentences and share them on your blog 
- Tag 7 other authors to do the same 

Right then, here's seven lines from line seven, on page seven of Blackbrooke....

Despite being five months older than me, Cassius was small. Too small for his age at barely four feet and weighing probably the equivalent of a bag of sugar. I examined him as he reached up a bony arm and pushed his yellow tinted glasses further up his nose. He had to wear the glasses to protect his eyes from the sun and usually wasn’t seen out of them throughout the summer.
Whereas I wore t-shirts and denim cut-offs, Cassius was clothed head to toe as his translucent skin was too sensitive to be exposed, even when slathered in sun-block. 

And here are the writers who I'd love to take part in Lucky 7...

Rose McClelland - a sneak peak of the next novel perhaps... ;-) 
Jo Skehan - would love to know what you're working on
@paperclipgirl - Anyone who shares my love for Point Horror books...
Talli Roland - Wishful thinking that you'd take part in this but one can dream! 
Ben Hatch - Another one who I'm interested to get a sneak peak of the next book from
Becca Fitzpatrick - Getting a bit carried away now....
Suzanne Collins - Now I'm just being stupid...

There, I feel more lucky already. Hmmm, starting to wonder whether I've treated this as a chain letter...Am I getting superstitious? Is the number 18 going to haunt me and turn into a mad obsession? 

No, that's impossible.

After all, there's only 17 left in the arena now...

I will be less nuts in my next blog, I promise. 



Saturday, 31 March 2012

Competition and the all important question of 'why?'

It's a simple question really isn't it?

It's one that I've neglected a fair bit writing Blackbrooke. In my quest to create something mysterious and creepy, as well as focusing on the relationship between my characters, I'd neglected this all important question.

My last edit of the book was to cut things out. The agent who gave me the feedback was right - I was overly descriptive on the movements and mannerisms of my characters, resulting in it reading like more of a screenplay than a book. It was like I didn't trust the reader to imagine it for themselves. Well, I've relinquished this control now and cut most of the 'stage direction'.

It reduced my page numbers by about 20, which I thought made all of the difference when the book stood at 334 pages. Too long for a teenagers novel, I'd thought.

However, once I'd finished, something made me go through it one more time. And it was that very question of 'Why?'

When you're writing something straight from your imagination, you're living it. You're so entrenched in the story that you fill in the gaps yourself, assuming the reader will reach the same conclusion.

So, I found Blackbrooke in a strange place - I didn't trust reader enough to let them imagine whether or not my heroine scratched her nose or bit her lip as she spoke, but I left them to build the history of the town I'd created and the people in it.

Dos went to see The Hunger Games at the cinema this week whereas I've spent the last few days devouring the book. I found it remarkable whereas Dos curled his lip at the film, saying there were too many things unanswered. So, he asked all of the questions the film refused to answer and I filled in the blanks for him.

It got me thinking about Blackbrooke and the fact that I don't want people to read it and come away with a whole bunch of unanswered questions. My third edit is completely ruining the 'cutting down' of edit number two as the page number has increased by ten and I'm still going.

It's time consuming, but quite fun to go into the things that matter in a bit more detail. It's helping to shape my heroine a little more as well and make her more likeable to me, whereas before I found her aloof yet a bit pathetic at times (yes, even I couldn't figure out someone I'd created myself!) but now I can see her filling out and gaining some much-needed colour.

It's not just her, its all of them. The town of Blackbrooke too. I can really feel a sparkle of magic from it and I'm really excited to get it back out there, under the noses of agents.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm now reading the The Hunger Games trilogy which was something I've been avoiding for a really long time. I was scared to read something, aimed at the same audience as Blackbrooke, in fear of it being just that bit too bloody amazing and rendering my writing skills completely useless.

You see, I'm not a competitive person, not in the least. In fact, quite the opposite - if I found myself suddenly placed in a race against others (or, fittingly, in the Hunger Games themselves), I wouldn't fight. I'd cower away and let someone else win while watching from the sidelines. I've always been this way, even from my school days where I'd try and opt out of netball and rounders so I could just watch instead.

If someone tells me that I'm down to the final two in an interview process, my first reaction is to hold my hands up and say 'let them have it', and I remember a team building exercise in a previous job where I failed miserably and came last by absolute miles because I had to pretend in my own head that I was doing it alone in order to get through it. By the time I'd rejoined my team on that particular occasion, they were halfway through lunch and eyeing me as though I was mental. Or just a complete loser.

I'm not a shy girl, but competition renders me useless and uncomfortable. I can't even join in with a computer game where I have to play against someone, unless I completely zone out. You'll find me in an arcade at an amusement park, slipping a pound into House of the Dead, closing one eye and taking aim with my gun. Just me against the zombies. I always do pretty well, levelling up, managing to take down dozens of the things, that is until someone comes and stands at my side. As soon as they pick up the gun and place the money in the machine to play alongside me, my gun goes down and I let them kill me. I'll shrug hopelessly and smile, while I return to my usual place of cheering the other person on.

It's most odd.

Anyway, the Hunger Games is a similar story. I didn't want to read because I thought that I'd wilt that little bit more after every turn of the page. Almost as though, Suzanne Collins was reaching out from the paper and waving her finger at me.

"Give it up, Emma. This is the sort of stuff you're up against." 

It was that thinking that would lead to me slamming the book back down in the shop and stalking out, red-faced. But I decided enough was enough. With a defeatist attitude, I don't stand a chance of getting published and even if I did, how would I react when I saw my book on the shelves with all of the others? Cry and run away? Or would I (and I can actually see myself doing this...) just buy every single copy of my own book just so it didn't have to sit next to all of the others with their fancier covers and more intelligent plots?

It's silly.

I gave up on the idea of acting and singing when I was a teenager, despite loving it, because I couldn't compete against others and wound myself up to the point of sickness.

I refuse to let the same thing happen again with writing. I'm stronger than that and the first thing I need to do is embrace the competition.

I read The Hunger Games and rushed out to buy the others from the trilogy straight away and I'm kicking myself for not doing this sooner. Between reading the Hunger Games, I've gotten stuck into my Point Horror books and also bought some other teen horror books by different writers. I'm having a ball. I thought it would make me feel inadequate but instead, it's just inspiring me to be a better writer. Reading is like exercising the writing muscles. You don't examine the words too closely (especially if the story sweeps you along) but its opening your mind and making you better at what you do.

I'm not preaching to anyone here but myself.

When I was buying a stack of books yesterday, the lady who served me pointed at one and asked if I'd read the other books by that author. I had to admit I hadn't (even though I desperately wanted to sound well versed and lie) and she smiled and said: "Well, they're really good, I recommend them. She's an amazing writer."

I left the shop with my new purchases and got a tiny rush of excitement that maybe, just maybe, someone will be saying those words about me one day.



Sunday, 18 March 2012

Two steps forward, none back

I keep moving forward.

That's really good isn't it? I'm ploughing on forward with Blackbrooke II (despite not having the first one published of course) and, with almost 40,000 words under my belt, it's really coming along. In my very biased opinion, I think it's a strong sequel and I really see the series as a trilogy - all planned out in my head.

There's just one problem.

I've got some major re-write work to do on the first one. Also, anyone remember a little book I wrote called Driving Exile? Yep? Well, that needs a re-write as well. The only thing is, I'm struggling to go back and revisit what I've already written.

How do I put it? It's just

My imagination is working overtime getting the new ideas out and I just can't seem to engage the brain to do the important stuff and sort out my existing material. And the thing is, the existing material IS more important because that's the stuff I need to send off to agents.

If I was to list everything I need to do in order of priority, editing and rewriting Blackbrooke and Driving Exile would be at the top. But what am I spending my time doing instead? Oh yes, I'm reading Point Horror books and writing the sequel to an unpublished and incomplete book.

Work doesn't help. I get so bogged down with the day job (I'm one of those people who can't NOT put 100% effort into everything I do - more of a curse than a blessing in this case) so I come away from it exhausted and usually stressed. I'll constantly check my emails through the evening and then spend time worried about going back the next day in case I've forgotten to do something or I get into trouble for something else. It doesn't leave a lot of room for my writing - the one thing I actually want to do.

So when I get in and I actually do want to write, I'll do the fun part and write new material rather than revisiting the old stuff.

It's also a pride thing. I hate going back and amending. I'm always so hard on myself and just feel like such a failure when I read back through what I've written. I physically wince at some sentences that don't sound intelligent or witty enough.

I even read back through my blog posts to check for mistakes and can't help but think that people reading it are muttering, "Jesus, no wonder this girl isn't published - she's crap" or "Bloody hell, if this girl calls herself a writer then I might try it. I'm better than her".

Basically editing my work is mentally draining and I come away feeling crap about myself. That, coupled with constantly feeling like a failure in my day job, makes it really tough.

I know I need to just suck it up and do it though, otherwise my biggest fear of just having a bunch of word documents sat on my computer will be realised. I haven't sent any new manuscripts off for a while because I have this editing work to do (that, as well as having to shell out for new printer cartridges) so right now, I'm not progressing at all.

Is this what they call a crisis of confidence? Urgh, feels like it.

I'm going to take myself off to the park for a wander and read the works of some published authors for a little while until I muster up enough back-bone to go back and amend my work.

Note to self: Do get a grip.



Saturday, 10 March 2012

Triple whammy

Ah, the Rule of Three.

This week has been a perfect example of this in my world with the following occurring:

Moving house
Turning 27
Book rejection


Spending my birthday scrubbing and painting my old flat with Uno isn't going to go in the history books as the best birthday ever (however, I fear it'll be one that I won't forget in a hurry). It was all for the greater good though as I'm now saw in my cosy new flat in the suburbs of Liverpool typing while I rock out to Planet Rock.

I've been ferrying my things to the new flat all week before I finally handed the keys back yesterday. On Tuesday evening, after throwing all manner of articles in the back of my car, I decided to stop and check my emails. And there it was.

The first Blackbrooke rejection.

As far as rejections go, it was the best yet. Someone had actually read it and taken the time to give me some constructive criticism. It's still a tough pill to swallow and the first reaction for me is to bawl my eyes out. Not because I'm a big baby (well, not entirely...) just because, when I do anything in life, I put my heart and soul into it and it hits me right in the chest if I feel like I've failed.

I've not had the time to write in the last couple of days and I suppose that's been a good thing because a rejection can jolt you. It's like the rejection acts as an earthquake and once it stops, you spend a bit of time, arms outstretched to the side, learning how to balance again. You can't help but wonder whether you're just not very good at this. Is it just another faddy hobby? Will I have a few more rejections and decide I'm not a writer anymore and turn my hand to something else? I damn well hope not.

For those writers who've received constructive criticism, you'll understand the slight dilemma I face. I want to soak in the advice like a sponge and take to the manuscript and perform some major cosmetic surgery. However, what's actual advice that needs to be acted on and how much comes down to their personal preference? Do other writers ignore these comments and stick to their guns? There's something slightly foolish about that in my mind as this is an outsider who's in the industry, offering her thoughts. Surely it would be silly to disregard them, but where do you draw the line? If I keep doing that (providing Blackbrooke gets to the 'feedback' stage again), then will I be left with a Frankensteins monster of a book - full of random writing styles and potentially a completely different plot? It's a tough one.

For all of my procrastinating, and after spending the last couple of days licking my wounds, I truly am so grateful to receive something worthwhile back from an agent for the first time. And this is the first agent I've sent Blackbrooke to so I can't beat myself up too much.

All of my friends who are aware of Blackbrooke weren't concerned with it, politely reminding me that's the way it goes. There will be more rejections along the way and I'm not even into double figures yet (counting Driving Exile) so I must plough on.

Sometimes the impossibility of it all overwhelms me. It's like painting a picture or creating a song - all down to timing.

A funny thing happened to Uno this week whereby she was in the car with her two sisters and a song came on that she really liked so she turned up the volume, to which her little sister piped up, "Are you kidding me? When I played you this song a few weeks ago, you said you hated it!" Uno denied this ever happened but on reflection, she did remember her sister playing the song, it was just that, at that particular time and place, she didn't really listen to it.

I think this an example of how it works when I send off my manuscript. If I manage to catch an agent at the right place, at the right time, when they're in the right mood, then they may love it. If I don't, then its a standard rejection.

Right place at the right time.

It all just seems so impossible sometimes and so beyond my reach. It's totally out of my control, I just have to make sure that I'm always part of the race. You have to be in it to win it, as they say. If I gave up  now, I'd always be wondering whether Blackbrooke or Driving Exile would hit the right person and the right time.

So, onwards I go in my quest to get published.



Ps. I'm now the proud owner of a WH Smith Blue Fox typewriter, courtesy of Uno after spotting it at one of the car boot sales we did recently to flog some stuff from my flat. Check it out, I'm now officially a crazy writer.