Book giveaway: Try Not To Breathe - Holly Seddon
This giveaway is sponsored by Corvus
Alex is sinking.
Slowly but surely, she's cut herself off from everything but her one true love - drink. Until she's forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.
Amy is lost.
When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She's as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.
Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…
"Such a GRIPPY book" – Marian Keyes
"A top-notch psycho-drama…as addictive as the best box sets" – Independent
"Try not to breathe, try not to make plans, until you have read this book. You’ll be fully hooked from page one…a brilliant, gripping must-read" – Glamour
Holly's 5 top tips for aspiring authors:
Perhaps I was naïve, but when my first novel, Try Not to Breathe, was published, I was surprised that a lot of the questions I was asked weren't about the plot or my inspiration. They were about my children. “How do you get any writing done?”
Everyone has responsibilities that often have to take priority over hopes and aspirations, but I don't think being a parent needs to prevent anyone from following their dreams. It might just take a bit more planning, or more time, than it takes the unencumbered among us.
I started writing Try Not to Breathe in 2010 and it was published in 2016. It was so worth it. If you've always dreamed about writing a novel, here are my top five tips:
1. Don't give yourself unrealistic deadlines
Writing your first novel should be a pleasure. As much as it takes grit, brainpower, energy and inspiration, it shouldn't be a chore. Setting word-count targets adds another thing to our to-do lists, and not hitting them is yet another stick with which to beat ourselves.
I genuinely believe that writing something every day, whether it's a whole chapter, a page or even just a little note about a character quirk, is a much more positive approach than setting a word-count goal.
2. Protect your writing time
We all deserve a little space in our brain that's just for us and we deserve time to cultivate that space. We're better parents when we're allowed to be whole people. We're better and more interesting role models too.
3. There is no correct way to write
There was an interesting discussion thread on the Creative Writing board, where the original poster asks if "mere mortals" like her can write using the Hilary Mantel method of drafting 12 versions of the same scene. The discussion that follows pretty much proves that there are too many approaches to list, and no one technique is best. You should use the one that feels right and allows the writing to flow.
4. Don't compare yourself to other people
A good friend of mine is an author. Just before I wrote Try Not to Breathe, I decided to try to write the kind of books that she writes. Funny, fresh, romantic and sharp but not my natural genre. What I wrote was – in her words – "horrible". She was right. A few weeks after abandoning that wretched attempt, I had the idea for Try Not to Breathe. It was nothing like my friend's book and nothing like the books that were popular at the time, but I loved it and that kept me going. You have to genuinely love your characters and believe your story if you want other people to as well.
5. Be professional and strategic
If you want to get your book published by a traditional publisher, there is a well-worn path to follow: submit to an agent, secure an agent and then have them submit to the right publishers. But firstly, finish the damn book! Although many agents do take a long time to get through all the submissions they receive, don't ever send something you've only just started – if they ask to see the full manuscript you have wasted that (very rare) chance.
Polish your manuscript then make a list of agents that work with authors in your genre and have represented writers that you can see similarities with. Check the agents' submission guidelines and follow them to the letter. I cannot stress this enough: do not be wacky!
Be proud of your work but open to advice and criticism, especially from publishing professionals. Being turned down is par for the course [insert famous JK Rowling story here] but any feedback along the way is valuable and helps you ensure your pride and joy is in the best possible shape.
Holly Seddon is a freelance journalist and blogger. As a mother of four, Holly divides her time between writing, walking her miniature schnauzer and chasing homework-evaders around the room. And then doing some more writing when night falls.
Try Not to Breathe is Holly's first novel, published to great acclaim in the UK, US, Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Poland and Taiwan. She is currently writing her second novel.
We've got 50 copies of Try Not to Breathe to give away to Mumsnetters to read and share their thoughts about it on the discussion thread.
You don't have to win a free copy to take part in the discussion. Anyone who has read Try Not to Breathe can post their feedback on the discussion thread. If you miss out on a free one, you can buy a paperback. All who post feedback before 6 September will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Love2shop voucher.
This giveaway ends on Monday 25 July
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Last updated: 5 months ago