Friday, 27 June 2014

When Alice Met Danny - T A Williams

About the book...
Devastated after losing her job, eternal pragmatist Alice leaves London for a new start in Devon. It’s there that she meets Danny.

Then she meets another Danny.

And then she meets Daniel – Danny to his friends…

In fact, there seems to be a Danny at every turn! Her neighbour’s a Danny; there’s little baby Danny; there’s a vicar, a windsurfer, even a dog called Danny! And whether it’s laughter, comfort, a flutter of romance or a walk along the beach, they each bring something special to Alice’s new life.

You might say it’s a coincidence. Alice certainly would… at first! But when she suddenly risks losing not just one Danny, but all of them, she begins to wonder: might there be more in a name than she ever guessed?

About the author....
I was born in England of a Scottish mother and a Welsh father. I now live in Devon, in south west England. I started writing when I was 12. "The Lake Dwellers", all 43 handwritten pages of it, draws shamelessly upon "Swallows and Amazons". A decade later I started writing more seriously and produced "The Man of Blood", a thriller set in northern Italy where I was living at the time.

Ten years ago, I began to write a trilogy of "serious" historical novels set in the Middle Ages. The medieval period is a brutal, often tragic era, and it was for a bit of light relief that I sat down in January 2013 and wrote "Dirty Minds". 

I had a whale of a time researching the nether regions of the internet and I discovered a staggering amount about the quirks and foibles of my fellow man (and woman). If you ever have a decade or so to spare, try typing "Sex Stories" into a search engine. You will be amazed. I certainly was.

When Carina UK offered me a publishing contract, I was delighted. They liked the first book, "Dirty Minds", so I threw myself into writing a second in a similar, fairly varicose vein. This book, "The Room on the Second Floor", came out on 22nd January 2014. It is a mixture of two love stories and a murder mystery, set in an old English manor house. Oh yes, and they turn the second floor into a brothel...

My third book, "When Alice Met Danny" came out on 3rd June 2014. This is my first attempt at romance or "chicklit". Maybe an unwise thing for a male writer to attempt. I await your comments with some trepidation. As usual, the canine glue holding the characters together is a black Labrador.

Carina UK are publishing my fourth book later in 2014.

At long last I have found my voice. And it's a voice with a smile. I hope you like my work.

Guest Post...

The nuts and bolts of getting published

One of the greatest things about getting a publishing contract is that you get to work with a professional editor. Writing is a solitary pastime. We writers sit there and make it up, all the time wondering if others will enjoy what we have written. Up until I got my first contract with Carina UK, the only people who had ever read my stuff were my friends and my long-suffering wife. Friends rarely do any more than say, ‘Great. I really enjoyed that. Well done.’ And they say that even though it has taken them three months to plough through the manuscript (if they have). My wife is a bit more direct (you should hear what she says about my clothes), but, when all is said and done, she will always tend to be supportive, rather than confrontational.

Having a professional read your work is a real eye-opener. I imagine that long hours are spent at editor school learning how to tell writers politely that what they have written is crap. Well, maybe not total crap, but in need of serious pruning, retuning or rewriting. And doing that without injuring the fragile self-esteem of the poor author, cowering in his or her garret, dreading the arrival of the e-mail, is no mean feat. I remember the first report I got back from my editor on book one, Dirty Minds. It was a three or four page document starting with a very enthusiastic first paragraph, heaping praise upon the book, but this was then followed by a whole load of “suggested” changes and improvements. This was my first book to be accepted by a publisher. I knew full well what “suggestions” meant; a nod’s as good as a wink… I sat down and made all the changes.

And you know what? These changes made it a better book. Looking back on it, there is no doubt in my mind. What my editor told me to do was the right thing.

So, what does an editor bring to a manuscript? First of all, and I can’t emphasise this enough, they have the ability to see beyond the book to the buying public. They know what sells. They will suggest changes to the plot, characters and locations that will enhance the book’s chances of making it in the immensely competitive world of publishing. Secondly, they have read hundreds and hundreds of books of all shapes and sizes. They can see things the author can’t. As an author, it’s your baby, your creation. You are too close to it. The editor can shine an impartial light upon it and that is priceless.

After the first round of editing (this is often called the Structural Edit), the author and the editor arrive at a version that satisfies both of them. At least, that’s what should happen. Whether Richard Adams really was told to rewrite Watership Down, but without the bunnies, is debatable, but some changes take longer to make than others. Anyway, the next step is for the manuscript to go for Copy Editing, aka proof-reading. This means it gets shunted off to another type of editor. This is (I imagine, never having met one in the flesh) a man or woman d’un certain âge, probably wearing a cardigan and fuelled by countless cups of herbal tea. There’s probably a cat somewhere around them as well. They worship at the feet of Lynn Truss on a daily basis. Anyway, they go through the book, changing colons to semi-colons, correcting spelling and checking whether the Marquis’s whip was in his left hand or his right hand.

At long last, after this second round of corrections has been made and approved, the manuscript moves off to the Digital People to be turned into an e-book. The Digital People are probably around 15 years old, wear big headphones and live on Red Bull. They are the sort of people you need when your computer eats your manuscript that you hadn’t backed up. They probably couldn’t care a hoot about your manuscript, but they magically turn it from Microsoft Word into an Epub file.

And that’s it. Next step fame and fortune. Well a little bit of fame would do, really.

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My thoughts....
I am so pleased to be part of the first blog tour organised by lovely Leah from Girls Love to Read I had read quite a few dark books and needed something a bit lighter and this book looked like it would hit the spot.  I loved the cover it just shouts 'pick me up' so I did.  Wow, the first surprise for me was finding out the author was a man! I just wasn't expecting that at all.

Alice has been absorbed in a job for seventeen years in London when she is suddenly made redundant.  The time has come for some life changing decisions and on the advice of a friend decides to buy a house at an auction that she hasn't even seen and moves from the razzmatazz to sleepy Devon.

This for me, was a very easy read, just hitting the spot when I needed it.  It's  a book that is more about characteristics and stereotypes than the characters themselves. Trevor did however, create a strong central character in Alice, she up sticks and lifestyle, going from a buzzing, vibrant city, where very one studiously ignores you, deliberately avoiding eye contact to village life where everyone including the dog wants to know everything about you - in fact knows it before you've met them. I love the fact that at first her gut reaction is to fall apart, but almost instantly pulls herself up and tackles things head on. She copes amazingly with everything thrown at her when most of us would just have curled up and cried.  I've lived in London and now live in a small, semi rural,  market town.  I've gone from being almost invisible to everyone telling me my business before I even know it myself :)

There's a couple of strange twists in this book one of which is the fact that the majority of the  supporting cast in this book all appear to be called Danny or some such variant, each playing a pivotal role in Alice's journey of self discovery.  Which, in itself is weird and amusing as the only friend from London Alice was bothered about leaving behind was called Danny! Friendship, trust, openness and optimism are all characteristics that shine from this book.  Each of the Danny's bring a new dimension, that Alice takes from and uses to grow in herself - it's a journey of self discovery that will amuse and in the end uplift you.

In life everything happens for a reason and Alice expertly demonstrates, as she is guided along, that the best thing to do with life is to grab it by the horns and live, embrace change and just go for it.  We only get one crack at it - so LIVE. 

A final note - I had my doubts as to whether a 'bloke' would get it! To get beneath the skin of a woman and process how she'd feel in various scenario's.  Let's just say I don't have any longer - Trevor you nailed it. If you want a nice read, to curl up with on a Saturday afternoon in the garden then this is a book for you. 

I gave this 4/5 stars

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