Just A Few Words...

Welcome to my blog, which is designed to give information and inside gossip about The Furry Tale Chronicles, my rom-com series. The first book, If The Shoe Fits, releases with Crimson Romance in April 2013.

Monday, 23 January 2012


Yes, the 'o' in 'yoikes' is meant to be there, it's not a typo. It's just how I say 'yikes'. And why am I saying 'yoikes'? Well, because I did it. I actually got off my butt, thoroughly tidied up my manuscript to the best of my ability (which probably means it isn't as tidy as it should be), and entered it into this year's ABNA.

Yoikes indeed.

The good thing about this is that I finally did something with my manuscript (rather than let it continue to gather digital dust on my laptop). I had a good go at fixing it up before, and it was a fairly legible piece of work. But it was in no way ready to be seen by a publisher. To be fair, it probably isn't now, either. I mean, apart from tidying up the punctuation and spelling errors, and an odd word change here and there, I haven't actually added to it, so it is still my first draft.

But let's be realistic here. I am under no illusions that my modern little fairy tale will be able to stand up to the drama and suspense giants that I am competing against. I've had a good nose around the various ABNA discussion boards, and I haven't actually come across anything remotely similar to the chick-litty genre that my book mostly belongs to. This could be a good thing because, as one friend pointed out to me, it may stick out from the crowd. But I tend to look on the flip side, and I figure that my story may be considered too lightweight to be a contender for the incredibly distinguished sounding 'Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award'.

Let's break that down a little. Amazon is just the name, so nothing to break down there really. And 'Novel' and 'Award' tend to explain themselves. But 'Breakthrough'? This is where I may struggle. Plots filled with suspense, thrills, drama, and all kinds of other epic-type elements, lend themselves well to being contenders for a 'breakthrough' kind of story. Me? I've loosely - and I DO mean loosely - based my plot upon Cinderella, which, I might add, is something that's been done many a time before now, and doesn't seem to me to have anything breakthrough-y at all about it.

OK, so I have a talking cat, which, while not unheard of in literature, is probably not so common in the real world. And despite a talkative tabby, my story is very definitely set in the real world.

Anyway, the book is definitely not 'breakthrough' in general terms. I suppose I could go with the definition of 'breathrough'  as being that of an unknown author making a splash with her fantastical tale of nude nosedives, cussing heroines, and magical pussycats. Yeah, I could go with that.

Of course, the odds seem pretty stacked against me. In my category, there are a potential 5,000 entries, and only a 1,000 maximum will go on to the next stage. Less, if the judges don't rate the pitches that high. So in reality, I have to have a pitch so good that it will beat 4,000 other pitches. Erk.

But if I flip that coin to the other side, and at least try to be optimistic, I could also say that I have a one in five chance of getting to the next round., and you know, one in five isn't all that bad. Sounds much better than saying I have to beat 4,000 people to the post, anyway.

Much as I would love it, I really don't envision myself at the beginning of June anxiously waiting to see if I have won. I don't envision myself making the semi-finals either. Reaching the quarter finals is probably as far am my doubting self will let me dream about, if only to be able to get real feedback from real publishers. Honestly though, I'm just hoping to get past the pitch. Unfortunately, there is a month to wait before we get to find out.

It's going to be a long month. And not a talking cat in sight to distract me.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Sneaking Back In...

So, after nine months of nothingness (my bad, very bad), I am returning with some actual news. Those who know me well know that I dither and put things off for as long as I possibly can. I don't know why I do this, as it's not exactly conductive to getting a book published, but there we are. Anyway, the new year brought with it a new determination to push my debut novel out into the general public.

I think a lot of the dithering is down to the fear that nothing will ever come of it, but that kind of attitude will definitely never get anyone anywhere, so once again I am going to give it a go. This time, hopefully, I will be able to keep going despite the Fear Of Getting Nowhere cloud hanging over my head.

The first big news is that off and on subtle pestering from my good friend Hart Johnson (Confessions Of A Watery Tart), has pushed me into entering this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. It's been mentioned more than a few times over the last two years, but I've always backed away from the idea. That fear again, I suppose. Anyway, this year I thought why the heck not? I mean, I've got nothing to lose, right?

With this in mind, I wanted to spruce up my cover art. My good friend Ana Karina Padilla Preston drew my original cover, but I wanted to make it all shiny and new to go with my fresh start. I have no talent at all with graphics - drawn or computer generated - so after a few abysmal attempts, another friend stepped in to help.

Joris Ammerlaan is a genius. *nods* He's already designed cover arts for several of my writer friends, and he offered to 'do something pretty with it'. Using Ana's drawing as a base, he enhanced the colours, created a new background, added some text, and just generally did some techy stuff which goes right over my head. This is the result:

Isn't it great?

Only now I had a wee problem. I needed a name. Who had written this book? Should I go with my real name, or pick a pseudonym? Once again, I turned to my friends for suggestions, then I put up a poll on my facebook page. I also asked for ideas on my Princess of Procrastination blog. Finally, today, I decided. After looking at the poll results and discussing it with family and friends, I went for 'Amber T. Smith', and I'm really happy with it. It's a pseudonym, but it also contains my real name. Most importantly (for me, at any rate), it has my daughter's name, whom I lost just over twelve years ago. Amber was actually a sort of lucky charm for me when I was writing Cardiffella back in 2009, as I'd used her name as my NaNoWriMo profile name, and it was the first time I'd ever completed a challenge like that. It seemed fitting.

So there we have it. I have a book (almost completely edited, by the way *faints*), a cover art, a pen name, and a competition to enter. Ooh, and Amber T. Smith also has a shiny new author page on Facebook. I'd say that qualified as news. wouldn't you?