Monday, 1 September 2014

Miss Cole's Tea Time: Twining's STRONG Breakfast Tea

Feeling a bit too drowsy to sit down and write this morning? Well, may I recommend you have a cup of this particular brew? Twinings 1706 Strong Breakfast is a great tea for those of you who, like me, love Assam blends. Stronger than last week's more floral Irish Breakfast, this is a great get up and go tea.

I also quite like it to fight off my mid-afternoon lull, whether I'm writing or at the day job. The strong taste is very invigorating! When a tea is described as being "malty", to me that translates as having a really noticeable taste that lingers in the mouth. You won't find floral hints in this one.

If you want to try a stronger tea but you're a bit nervous, my advice is to not brew it for longer than three minutes and be sure to add plenty of milk. You can experiment - brewing it for longer, changing the amount of milk - but strong teas make a nice writing accompaniment.

But if you like your tea super strong, don't bother with milk. It's like coffee - you can drink it black.

Have you got a preferred strong blend?

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Writing Lifestyle: Querying

Ah, querying.  When you make the choice to go from writing for a hobby to writing to be published, querying will start to take up a lot of your headspace.  You'll find yourself Googling agents, buying Writers' and Artists' Yearbooks (or your nation's equivalent), using sites like Query Shark to hone your query writing skills, and Query Tracker to find agents seeking the genre you write.

Now, when you get to querying, keeping track of it all can be a challenge. You can use the Query Tracker site to do exactly that, but I'd rather not have that all online and instead use a good old spreadsheet format. How you lay yours out is totally up to you, but here's how I do it:

Click so you can read it ;)

When I've contacted an agent, I also change the colour of the text and make it bold so I can instantly tell without checking dates.  If I get a full request, I'll put that in the notes section along with the date.  If it's a rejection, I move all the details onto a separate rejection page in the spreadsheet file.  I will also date when I received the rejection or, if I've never heard back, note that down, too.  So far, Colony has waaaaay less silence than Resistance.  I'm taking that as a good sign ;) Remember, some agents have a "if you haven't heard from me in x amount of time, I'm sorry to say I've passed." Be sure to keep track of that in your spreadsheet.

It's important to know where to find support while you're going through this, because it is hard and it will hurt and you will need to rant about it on occasion - TO PEOPLE WHO AREN'T THE AGENTS REJECTING YOU. Never, ever, ever send a rude e-mail to an agent. They don't have to like your book and they also don't have to tell you why. Yeah, I know it's unfair when agents insist you call them by name but send you a "Dear Author" rejection. It sucks, but you'll have to suck it up and deal with it. It is not, and never will be, a personal thing.  Rejection of your book is not rejection of you as a person. Don't throw a tantrum at the agent. It stuns me when agents tweet or blog about the rude responses they get from writers. Do people really think sending agents nasty emails is going to make the agents turn around and go "you're right, I am a stuck up bitch and, oh golly gosh, was I ever wrong about your astonishing piece of groundbreaking literature"? Of course they won't. DON'T DO THAT!

This has been a Public Service Announcement Brought to you by Cole Burke, who will take out all of her frustrations on bad guys in videogames, won't I, Lara? :D

Best. In-Game. Weapon. EVER!

Do you know who understands the highs and lows of the querying process? Other writers. One of the best things about attending YALC in July was chatting with Emma Adams and sharing our querying pain.  You can talk to about it with non-writers, and of course they can sympathise and offer hugs, chocolate and other things to cheer you up, but no one understands it quite like a fellow rejected writer. If you can meet up and discuss in person, do it. Otherwise, do it via e-mails or PMs on Twitter. Or, if you are going to blog about it (Hello!), don't mention specifics. Imagine an agent considering representation decides to check out your blog, only to find post after post ranting about the evils of particular agents who rejected your perfectly wonderful book. That's not going to give the best impression of you, is it?

Chin up! You've got to keep on trying, hard as it is, saddening and maddening as it is, because there is an agent out there who will want your book. You've just got to fight on and find them.

Good luck!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

WriteOnCon - A Look Back

Yeah, yeah, I know, it only just ended, but WriteOnCon was amazing, as always. Want to know how many ninja agents commented on Colony?




Oh, stop it! Quick pro tip: if you go into WriteOnCon expecting agent feedback and interest, chances are you'll be in for disappointment. Getting noticed by an agent is a total bonus.

So, do you know who did comment on Colony? A whole ton of amazing writers who've helped me craft a stronger query letter and a better opening to the novel.  And, for me, this is what WriteOnCon is really about - connecting with other writers and sharing a passion for writing. And getting sneak peeks of books that BETTER BE ON MY SHELVES ONE DAY, OKAY?!

Sharing your work with your peers is every bit as scary as sending it to agents, and everyone on the forum understands that.  Everyone's there to help.  And so much of the work on offer was amazing.When these authors are published, we will all be in for some real reading treats!

Don't be down if, like me, you remained unnoticed by the agents. You can still query them! And now you have a shiny new query to wow them with! Gooooooo!

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to read my query, first 250 and first 5 pages. Your advice and encouragement is hugely appreciated!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

What's Up Wednesday

It's Wednesday! HOORAY :D Come and join in What's Up Wednesday at Jaime and Erin's blogs ^_^

What I'm Reading

Finished No Harm Can Come To A Good Man. I really liked it.  It has a great central concept - what if we could use an app to predict everything in our lives.  Saying more would spoil it.

Now I'm reading Will Hill's Department 19 on my Kindle.  It's slow going though because HELLO WRITE ON CON! So many amazing books on offer over there!!!! Link me to your posts if I haven't commented on them yet! SHOW ME YOUR WORDS!!!

What I'm Writing

I'm going to cover this in the next section more, but my WiP is up to 40k :D

What Else I'm Up To

So I went on a writing retreat on Sunday in Brighton.  Six hours of writing. It was AWESOME! :D I wrote 10,000 words. Yes. 10,000 words.

Wow, if I could do that daily, NaNoWriMo would be easy!

What Inspires Me 

By 6pm tonight, I will have officially survived THE SCHOOL SUMMER HOLIDAYS!

Finally, I can get back to my violin lessons! YAY!

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Irish Breakfast

I like the occasional cup of Irish Breakfast tea. It has a distinctive taste that's quite different from English Breakfast.  It's definitely more floral, so if you're looking to make the transition from herbal to black teas, Irish Breakfast is a good place to start. I've tried a few different blends over the years, from Twinings to Adagio, and now, Bewley's.  If you want Irish tea, you should probably get one from Ireland.

The first time I had Irish Breakfast was with my Irish aunt who lived in the Bronx. Yeah, yeah, I know. I went to the US to have Irish tea with my Irish aunt.  TEA KNOWS NO BORDERS! Had you met her, you never would've believed Aunt Norah had lived in the States for over fifty years.  Her Irish accent held on fast.

Irish breakfast is not quite as strong as English breakfast, probably due to the Darjeeling blended with the stronger Assam, which is why it's quite nice to drink as a weekend breakfast tea. Why have a strong tea when you can have a mellower, more refreshing tea and have a gentler start to your writing day?

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Writing Lifestyle - GET THEE TO WRITE ON CON!

I know I mentioned this in a previous post, but it totally deserves its own post.

It is so important for you to attend WriteOnCon, even if you're not at the querying stage. It's a fantastic way to find out what's going on in your area of publishing, meet new people, pick up amazing advice from agents and published authors, and just be part of the great vibe. If you're not querying but getting close to it, WoC is a perfect way to see how an effective query is put together.

If you are querying, WoC is an amazing way to gain the confidence you need to share your work with others. You'll be astonished at the things other people will suggest about your work that you never noticed. On the other hand, maybe they'll just convince you to stick with your gut feeling. There's loads of advice to be had, but don't give up your own voice.

Oh, and you never know - maybe you'll get some interest from the ninja agents ;)

So, come on everyone! I can't wait to see you all in the forums! And you can find me here.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Finishing Things Off

Lately, I've been really dedicated to finishing things off before buying or starting new things. Finishing bottles of shampoo, finishing shower gels, finishing packets of tea, finishing notebooks.  I really like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing something off.  It's also a great money saving tip.  Hello, budget! I am sticking to you :D

(Except you, Lush section of my budget. You are blown. Constantly and forever blown)

Obviously, finishing a draft or an edit feels amazing, but finishing a smaller goal, like a particular word count for the week, or hitting a particular number of pages before taking a break, is a great way to give yourself a boost. I have to admit I don't stick to a finish this book before starting the next one mindset because I tend to cycle through WiPs until one idea sticks (like Colony and, currently, Magical Girl!Story). 

I've had such a busy summer at work, setting myself achievable goals really kept me going. Another thing I've proudly finished off every week is my summer of blogging. Posting regularly on here again has been brilliant. I didn't realise how much I'd missed posting to a schedule.

If only I could apply the philosophy of "Finish One Thing, Start Another" to my book buying habit... hmm... Imagine life with a one book at a time TBR pile...

I have absolutely no photos to accompany this post, so have a cute gif instead.

And the video it comes from:

;) Now go get stuff done! THE POWER OF CUTE COMPELS YOU!!!!