Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bank Holiday Catch-Up

The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur, with the 24 Hours Paris launch, my parents visiting, and my citizenship! I've spent this long weekend trying to catch up on all my emails and updating my website (if you have a chance to take a look, I've completely redesigned it)! With rain, wind, and the random bit of sun thrown in, it's actually been a good time to delve into the pile of work awaiting and start hammering away at it.

With edits of my novel The Hating Game well underway, I've also added the book on Goodreads -- and it's now available for pre-order on Amazon! I don't know how this happened, but people must be pre-ordering because earlier today it was at 22,000 (better than it sounds!) in the salesrank! Roll on 2011!

Now I need to really get my head down and focus on my novel edits. I'm about one-third of the way through and doing some major rewrites, but it's much stronger already and I'm starting to get really excited (and nervous) about releasing it to the general public. There's something so anxiety-inducing about knowing your work will be seen and judged (hopefully in a good way!).

Happy Bank Holiday weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Picture's Worth a Million Words

Still basking in the glow of my new citizenship, but what better way to remind me of how great my fellow expat countrywomen are than by seeing this on Within Ireland's blog?

Thank you so much -- you made my day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm In!

Thank you for all for the congratulatory messages yesterday! I'm happy to report that I'm now officially a British citizen!

The ceremony, held in Kensington Town Hall, was lovely and surprisingly ceremonial.

I've been to one or two of such ceremonies back in Canada, and (although it may be slightly unpatriotic to say this), I have to say this one was better.

Maybe it's because I was taking an active part, but the individual oaths that we had to take, the Alderman in his ceremonial dress and the music that played throughout the ceremony certainly put a tear in my slightly jaded eye.

Afterwards, we had tea and biscuits with the ceremony officials, where we learned that Kensingon is one of three Royal Boroughs in the country (the other two are Kingston and Windsor).

And then The Man and I took off to the nearby pub for a celebratory Pimms in the sun.

What better way to celebrate being British?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Brit Birthday!

With about two hours to go until my Citizenship Ceremony this afternoon and my wardrobe all decided thanks to the help of some friends on Twitter, I've decided to make this post a tribute to my adopted homeland! I'll try to drop by later to upload some photos from the ceremony.

So here's England's most patriotic anthem, based on Blake's poem Jerusalem:

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green and pleasant Land.

Monday, May 24, 2010


A great few days in Wales! Here are a few photos - enjoy! Drop back tomorrow when I BECOME A BRITISH CITIZEN! Yay!

Chepstow Castle.

Tintern Abbey.

Isolated graveyard on the Gospel Pass, Black Mountains.

On top of the Black Mountains.

The Wye River, Hay-on-Wye.

The largest second-hand bookstore in the world, Hay-on-Wye.

The Olde Ferrie Inne, Symonds Yat.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On Little London

I'm back from an amazing trip to Wales and Hay-on-Wye (pictures to come!), but I just wanted to post a link to my interview on Little London Observationist. Take a peek if you've got the time!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hit the Hay

Just a quick one to say that my parents are in town and tomorrow we're heading off to the wonderful world of Wales -- in particular, Hay-on-Wye! I am so exicted because if you like books, this is paradise. The town has over 30 bookshops!

And here's where we'll be staying...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's all French to Me...

Just came across this wonderful poem by Irish writer Niamh Boyce, which scored her a copy of 24 Hours Paris from Me and My Big Mouth (Niamh, hope you don't mind me stealing it to post here...).

Pour Marianne
À l'âge de 37,
j'avais enfin plaisir à Paris,
parce que j'ai gagné livre de Marsha
sur le site de bouche grande fantastique...
Donc je laisse le téléphone sonne de la conserver,
comme je sat y twittering doucement à tous mes amis à la maison,
debout sur les fours électriques...

Head over to the comments section on her blog to see the translation! Thanks, Niamh!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Six Years in London

In all the excitement of last week, the six-year anniversary of my arrival in London slipped right by! This year more than ever, I really feel like London is my home. When I first landed here, I barely knew anyone; I was about to embark on a career in teaching; and I didn't know much about the city. Now, I'm married, I'm a full-time writer and I've written a book about London (and Paris, too)! And I'm going to have a novel published... set in London, of course. What a difference six years can make!

After the wedding ceremony at Dali Universe.

London has played such an important role in my life. The Man and I met on the South Bank and despite both of us being from other countries, we knew it was where we wanted to get married. With our ceremony practically under the London Eye and our reception on the Thames, our wedding felt like a celebration of London, too.

The Millennium Bridge from our boat on the Thames.

Career-wise, London was very helpful in quickly giving me guidance that I really did not want to teach here -- long-term, anyway (thanks, London... I think). It provided the subject matter for my first book, 24 Hours London, which taught me so much about the publishing process, promotion and lots of other details I'd naively thought would magically take care of themselves. Now, with my first novel set to be launched next year, I feel even more grateful. If I hadn't been living here, I never would have met the publisher who helped set my publishing career in motion.

The latest cover design for my new novel, under pen-name Talli Roland.

So... here's to six years in London! I hope the next six will be as brilliant.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Winners!

It's the day after launch and everything went well! Thanks to everyone for all the lovely comments here and on Twitter. I'm over at writer India Drummond's blog today with the top five Paris places for writers. Thanks, India, for hosting me!

And now for the winners of 24 Hours Paris and 24 Hours London!

24 Hours London goes to... Gemma Noon, who prefers London! Here's her reason:
Paris has effortless chic and is, I think, the more refined and grown up of the two cities. London is the more daring. It gets things wrong. it also gets them oh so right. Culturally it is more willing to embrace those that give it a go than its posh neighbour.Paris is chic. London is cool.Hell, I'm still in my twenties. I vote for cool :-)

24 Hours Paris goes to... Virtual Onion, who prefers Paris! Here's the reason:
Hard choice but I'd have to say Paris. It is a city of romance, beauty, 1920s writers and existential debates in little cafes. It inspires and refreshes. It feeds the body and the soul.

If you could both please email me your postal addresses (marshawrites AT, I'll get the books out to you! Congratulations!

If you haven't won, don't worry! You can still win a copy of 24 Hours Paris on Me and My Big Mouth. All you need to do is write something in French (hello, Google Translator!) in the comments section and he'll choose the winners on the weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

24 Hours Paris Launch Day

It's finally launch day (and I'll stop harping on about it soon, I promise!).

Lots of exciting stuff going on! The 24-Hour Tweetathon is in full swing -- starting from this morning at 12 a.m., every hour for 24 hours, I'm tweeting top tips from 24 Hours Paris. You can follow along here.

On his brilliant book blog Me and My Big Mouth, Scott Pack will be giving away 5 copies of the book. All you need to do is write something in French (hello, Google Translator!) in the comments section and he'll choose the winners on the weekend.

And you can still enter to win a copy of 24 Hours Paris or 24 Hours London. Just click here and write in the comments section which city you prefer: London or Paris. You don't need to have been to either; just use your imagination! I will make the draw tomorrow and post the results then.

Oh, yes, and to buy the book you can go here or to Prospera Publishing. Thank you all for putting up with my plethora of Paris posts and if you do read the book, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

24-Hour Tweetathon!

Well, two reasons to celebrate: it looks like Britain may finally have a government! That, and the 24-Hour Tweetathon starts tonight at 12 a.m.! Every hour for 24 hours, I'll tweet top tips from 24 Hours Paris. You can follow along here.

And for anyone with some spare time on their hands, here's the link to my BlogTalk interview with Sean Barry of Casting Couch.

Monday, May 10, 2010

24 Hours Paris Launch Week!

It's launch week and I'm busy getting all my ducks in a row for Wednesday! I've got my hot little hands (cold little hands, actually, the weather's freezing) on ten copies of 24 Hours Paris and I've even signed one already for a Canadian friend!

Tonight, the wonderful Sean Berry of BlogTalk Radio's The Casting Couch will be interviewing me about my Paris book; you can listen along at 6 p.m. EST, or I'll post the link tomorrow. Having spoken with Sean back in November, I'm less nervous this time around. I just hope I can stay awake until 11 p.m. my time!

And you can still enter to win a copy of 24 Hours Paris or 24 Hours London. Just click here and write in the comments section which city you prefer: London or Paris. You don't have to have been to either; just use your imagination!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Election Day!

So it's finally Election Day here in the UK! Polling stations have been open since 7 a.m. this morning, and the whole country (well, at least 20 per cent) is eagerly awaiting the results of what the media is claiming to be 'the most exciting election of the last 50 years'. Will it or won't it be a hung parliament? Will Nick Clegg (otherwise known as the White Obama -- no, I'm not kidding -- come out on top in a triumph for change?

Although I'm not yet quite a British citizen (two more weeks!), as a member of the Commonwealth I am allowed to cast my vote. So bright and early, I trotted down to the nearby library to have a go at exercising my civic duty. The polling station was quite small compared to the one at home, but manned by four smiling faces who located me on the voter registry and handed me two papers: one white, one green. Gah?

Pretending I knew what I was doing, I was pointed to a nearby cubicle where I learned that green was for council elections and white was for the general election. Scanning the lengthy list for the general election, I had to giggle: where else on earth would you have a 'Lady Catherine' running (for the UKIP, naturally)? I made my X (oddly, there was no box to make the X in -- and I can assure you the X was not made by a Conservative name), then put my ballot in the box.

Will a change be coming? Either way, I've done my part for the politics of my adopted nation!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

24 Hours Paris Launches One Week from Today!

Yet more excitement! Can you handle it? I'm certainly trying to stay sane!

Time has flown and 24 Hours Paris launches one week from today! We have a snazzy new cover and some great reviews. To get a taste of the book and to see how to win free copies, head over to the 24 Hours Paris blog. But wait!

Because you can win your very own 24 Hours Paris book right here (gosh, I sound like a TV advert) or a copy of 24 Hours London. All you need to do is either write in the comments section or email marshawrites AT with the answer to this question:

Which city do you like more -- London or Paris -- and why?
(Note: nation bashing does not count as a reason!).

Let's see if we can reignite the great English-French battles, shall we? I'll be giving away one copy of 24 Hours Paris and one copy of 24 Hours London to the two best (or most interesting) answers.

The contest is open until launch day -- May 12, 2010. I'll post the winners on that day. Also on launch day, I'll be doing a 24 Hour Tweetathon on Twitter, where every hour from 12 a.m. on May 12th until 11 p.m. that same day, I'll be posting tips from the book. Follow along here.

Right. Now where's my coffee? I need more caffeine...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

WAG: First Time

This week's WAG theme is 'First Time':

Everything we’ve ever done had a ‘first time’. Think of an activity (either of your own or something you observe of someone else) and write about the first time of that experience, and perhaps even compare it to subsequent experiences. Maybe even pick a moment that might have looked mundane from the outside, but made a significant change to the person experiencing it. Not a lot of rules, as usual… just let your imagination flow!

My eyes bulged and I gasped, mouth open like a panting dog. I flapped my hands in the air, trying to summon the Arctic winds to quell the volcano erupting inside of me. Streams of lava seared my throat and flowed through to my stomach, bubbling gleefully inside me. My tongue darted out to wet my lips, setting them on fire. The was one thought, and one thought only my frantic brain could form. I would never, ever eat Scotch Bonnet peppers again.

Here's what others have posted:

How to Join the Writing Adventure Group
Sue O’Shields
Caroline Dickie (Follow Caroline on Twitter)
Melanie Trevelyan (Follow Melanie on Twitter)
Kate McIntire (Follow Kate on Twitter)
Marsha Moore (Follow Marsha on Twitter)
Miss G (Follow Miss G on Twitter)
JM Strother (Follow JM on Twitter)
India Drummond (Follow India on Twitter)
Mickey Hoffman

The Writing Adventure Group is on Facebook. Join us there too, and get weekly reminders so you never miss an adventure.

There is now a Writing Adventure Group list on Twitter! Follow the list and never miss a WAGger tweet! I’m working on adding some past WAGgers too… if I’ve missed you, please drop me an @mention and I’ll add you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Win a Copy of 24 Hours Paris from Francophilia!

The wonderful weather joy of the Bank Holiday weekend has climaxed with hail (yes, hail!). But if you fancy dreaming about somewhere other than London, you can win a copy of 24 Hours Paris over at Francophilia. Just enter before the end of May!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lucy Luck, Lorella Belli and Juliet Pickering: Agent Round-Up

Last week I went to a great talk by agent Lucy Luck at the London Writers' Club (if you're in the London area, you should check the club out; it's a great way to network with other writers and industry professionals). Over the past year, I've also been to talks by agents Juliet Pickering of AP Watt and Lorella Belli, so I thought I'd do a round-up here of all their great advice!

Lucy Luck, April 2010
  • The publishing industry has always been tough; it hasn't really got any tougher
  • Writers generally sign with the agent, not the agency
  • Translation rights, American rights and film rights are the most important things for writers to hang onto, to maximise later
  • There is a real disparity between the 'branded' authors and new authors in terms of what publishers are prepared to take risks on
  • What makes her commit to a book? If she reads the first bit, then puts it away and still remembers it after a few weeks and wants to read more, then she'll take another look. For her, it's all about cadence and voice
  • She works closely with authors to edit their MS but will usually only do three rounds of MS edits with them
  • DON'T begin your MS with a character waking up from a hang-over -- clichéd and she sees this loads of times
  • First person and present tense are incredibly hard to pull off
  • You have to practise writing. You wouldn't expect a concert pianist etc to be great right away. You must write because you enjoy it, not just to get published.
  • Personalise your approach to agents. Do research on their websites.
  • Online presence and promotional skills are good (like the icing on the cake), but what's really important is the writing!

For more notes from the session, click here (if you scroll down, you can also read my guest post on organising your writing day).

Juliet Pickering, January 2010

  • It's better to approach in hard copy than email (for her, anyway), as email is easily dismissed.
  • As more editors are taking on more and more work (due to cuts etc), agents are increasingly acting as editors
  • Agents in the UK typically take 15% commission
  • Advances are usually split in three instalments: first instalment after the contract signed; second instalment upon delivery of MS; third instalment upon publication
  • Ultimately, promotion is the publisher's responsibility, not the agent's
  • Book launches happening less frequently now due to economic conditions
  • Royalties generally paid twice a year
  • If your book sold averagely, you can expect to see a return on sales within 12 to 18 months (must earn out your advance first)
  • Most books are not published in hardback anymore: published first in trade paperback then paperback
  • Publishing is changing rapidly due to eBooks - uncertainty as to how publishers are dealing with electronic rights

Lorella Belli, February 2009

  • There are now more than 120,000 new titles published a year.
  • Choosing to become a professional writer is a bit like starting a business and should be approached the same way.
  • There are over 150 literary agents in the UK.
  • Commission charges are pretty standard in the industry: 15% (UK sales); 20% (US sales)
  • Lorella Belli Agency is interested in non fiction, women's fiction - strong memorable characters, original storyline, pace and good story-telling.
  • Reading a novel is like watching a film: when you start watching it, if you think it's boring, you change the channel. That's what agents and publishers do if your work isn't strong enough to engage them