Can you believe it’s almost five years since lovely Apple Gidley last featured on Linda’s Book Bag? Then Apple was explaining how to find the right story in a guest post celebrating Fireburn here. Today Apple is back with a brilliant post about achieving success as her latest novel Have You Eaten Rice Today? is recently published. I would like to thank Apple too, for sending me a copy of Have You Eaten Rice Today? which I’m very much looking forward to reading.
Have You Eaten Rice Today? was published on 6th September by Vine Leaves Press and is available for purchase through the links here.
Have You Eaten Rice Today?
The Emergency rumbles through the jungle, the kampongs, and towns as the communist uprising in 1950’s Malaya adds poignancy to the salutation, ‘have you eaten rice today?’ when hunger drives some terrorists to surrender.
Simon Frampton returns to Malaya as a rubber planter after failing to settle into civilian life in England after the War. His knowledge of the jungle is again put to use when a war-time covert force is reformed and renamed, Ferret Force, made up of Malays, Chinese and Europeans.
Dee Cunningham, an Australian nurse longing to escape the confines of Townsville, Queensland, joins the British Red Cross to help set up and run rural clinics in Malaya.
The violence of guerrilla warfare becomes the backdrop to their love story, but miscommunication leads to sadness. It is not until sixty years later, when Simon’s grandson Max comes to stay at his Dorset farm, when he finds a box filled with envelopes with Australian stamps, and the truth comes to light.
Have You Eaten Rice Today? is a poignant exploration of Malaya’s violent history, merdeka, and how love is found in unexpected places.
The Long Road to Overnight Success!
A Guest Post by Apple Gidley
Do you ever put down a book and sigh? I do. Regularly. The satisfaction of words that have taken you long past bedtime. Although I am fickle. Each book read that I like levitates the author to the number one spot. Until the next book. I should show greater empathy because I am a writer.
Writing is a solitary role that demands self-discipline and a healthy dose of optimism to chase away the doubts. Which is why, for me, Mondays at 10 are sacrosanct. It is when The Writers’ Circle of St Croix meet to critique and cheer on their fellow scribes. We are a diverse group with eclectic works in progress but all with the goal of seeing our books in print.
And therein lies the conundrum. Which route to take?
Self-publishing, hybrid, or traditional. I’ve tried them all.
The first, self-publishing, allows total autonomy and is the fastest and relatively inexpensive route to publication. It does though, in some ways, require the greatest self-discipline. Every book, needs to be edited, but with possible monetary constraints it is tempting to scrimp on cover design and more than one edit. There is little more off-putting for a reader than to find misspelled words or incorrect grammar, even if it’s a cracking story.
Hybrid publishing, wherein, depending on the contract, costs are shared between the author and the publisher can be expensive. It is a gentle way to learn the importance of the aforementioned editing, cover design and marketing. Due diligence is required in finding the right hybrid publisher as there are charlatans lurking behind many glowing promises.
Lag time is the biggest drawback with traditional publishing. Once a book is written authors want to get books to readers.
Finding an agent can take six months or more, and there is no guarantee your manuscript will not fall into a publishing abyss. If the work is picked up by either an agent and / or publisher the lapse between submission and response can seem interminable. The upside is the knowledge pool of not just the industry but the people in it. However, another eighteen months can easily be lost as a manuscript goes through numerous edits, cover design, and my biggest bugbear, marketing. With only four major publishing houses, albeit with numerous imprints, a level of autonomy is lost for the writer.
I am inordinately fortunate to have been signed on by an independent publishing house, Vine Leaves Press, wherein the author’s voice is heard, whilst still being open to advice and accepting they know the business. I feel I now have the best of all worlds in that a small indie press allows personal involvement, not only throughout the publishing process, but also with the stable of writers.
Writers are in many ways an insecure bunch. Not surprising when one considers the number of rejections we go through in our early writing days. On the days when I ask myself, “Who do you think you are to presume you can write?”, I make a cup of tea, or walk the dog, or do some weeding and remember an interview from 1990 in which Terry Wogan asked Rosamunde Pilcher, author of The Shell Seekers, about her overnight success. She replied “I’m an overnight success who only took forty-five years to make it.”
What writers need to remember, on those lonely days, is that someone, somewhere, is reading your words way past lights out. That ‘overnight’ is a relative term that can stretch through both hours and years.
I think those are wise words indeed Apple. I’m sure many aspiring and established authors will be able to relate to them completely. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.
About Apple Gidley
A transient life has seen Anglo-Australian Apple Gidley live in countries as diverse as Trinidad and Thailand, Nigeria and the Netherlands, and another eight in between. St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands is home, for now. Her roles have been varied-editor, intercultural trainer for multinational corporations, British Honorary Consul to Equatorial Guinea, amongst others. Gidley started writing in 2010 and is now working on a contemporary novel whilst researching for two more historical fiction books. She has short stories in anthologies, and also writes a regular blog, A Broad View.