‘You only looked away for a second….’
O this is exciting!! I have the honour of kick-starting the blog tour for Hold My Hand, the debut novel from M.J. Ford ON Publication Day. Literally hot-off-the-press with Avon Books, today March 8th, M.J. Ford has been described as ‘a stellar new voice‘ in crime fiction, being compared to Karin Slaughter and James Oswald.
I am looking forward to reading Hold My Hand over the next few weeks but in the meantime let me tell you a little about it, before I hand you over to M.J. Ford with some handy advice and tips for all writers, especially aspiring writers….
How long do you hunt for the missing?
A horrible vanishing act…
When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared…
Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether?
And then another child disappears…
Purchase Link ~ Hold my Hand
Tips for writers
by M.J. Ford
It feels odd to be offering advice to aspiring writers, because I still see myself as one.
How do you measure success?
Finishing a novel?
Publishing a novel with a publishing house?
Selling x number of copies?
Earning a living?
I’d say I’m on 3 out of five. Three and a half some days. I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years, and there have been good times and lean times, moments of elation and profound disappointment. A few things I’ve learned along the way…
If you want to be a writer, write!
Sounds obvious, but I wanted to be a writer before I’d written anything and that’s probably not very sensible.
An old flatmate of mine pointed out that I was the only aspirational writer who didn’t appear to put many words on paper. Being by any measure successful at writing is not something you can choose to do one morning – it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of words written down that go nowhere.
Like any discipline, it requires practice. I’ve lost count of the number of people who, on hearing I’ve written children’s novels, reply with some version of ‘I often think about writing a children’s book’, like it’s as straightforward as going to the supermarket. I’ve heard other people say that writing is an addiction. Good luck to them.
I enjoy being a writer, finishing a story and seeing it in print, but I don’t much like writing itself. Much as I imagine a gold prospector doesn’t much like panning in a freezing river.
Don’t be put off by negative feedback, but don’t ignore it either
This is always a tricky balancing act. Rejection is part of 99% of publishing journeys. Even the most successful of writers have dispiriting stories of those dreaded thin letters in the post, or five-line perfunctory emails.
Stories are like seeds that often fail to find the fertile ground they need to grow into books. And often it’s not the seed that faulty – it’s the soil, or the weather, or the fact another seed has found the same spot. Enough metaphors.
It’s a simple fact that most books are rejected, and even those that make it to publication are normally only accepted by a couple of publishers. If you are lucky enough to get genuine feedback, it’s only one person’s opinion, of course. But rarely is feedback given unless it’s thought through.
So take it to heart. It might hurt at first, but a week later, under honest appraisal, it often starts to make sense.
Don’t put your eggs in one basket
The chances of earning a full living as a writer are vanishingly small, but you can up your chances by being flexible.
Sometimes writers slave away at a single work for several years, seeking criticism, redrafting, putting it in a drawer for a while, redrafting again, perhaps submitting and receiving feedback, redrafting… This is good – it’s all part of the discipline. But there comes a point when that first book might have to be put away for good.
That’s not a defeat. It’s a brave move, and a sign that you’re serious. I’d guess most published writers’ first novel, or maybe several, languishes somewhere gathering dust.
Start something new – it’ll almost certainly be better than what came before.
M.J. Ford is a writer and an editor at Working Partners, where he works on projects across the age groups. He loves thrillers, historical and fantasy titles. He has worked as an editor and writer of children’s fiction for many years.
M.J. Ford lives with his wife and family on the edge of the Peak District in the north of England.
Hold My Hand is his debut novel.
Twitter ~ @MJFordBooks