The Death of my Childhood

Published 12/08/2014 by Lily Crussell

Turning on my computer this morning, I was stunned into stillness. Robin Williams is dead, potentially from suicide. I honestly don’t even know where to start with this as that man is responsible for more laughter and joy than I can possibly say. ‘Jumanji’, ‘Hook’, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ and ‘Aladdin’ were my childhood. I remember watching ‘Mork and Mindy’ in the 80s, my dad listening to ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ excepts in the car. ‘Awakenings’ was shown in Drama class and stayed with all of us long after. ‘What Dreams May Come’ had me sobbing more times than I’d like to admit and I watched it until the tape wore through. ’24 Hour Photo’ was one of the creepiest things I’d seen, and I was in awe that it was the same person who could make me laugh so.

I know people die everyday; heroes, villains, the good and the bad, but this man was such a huge part of my life that it didn’t ever really occur to me that he was mortal.

The one lesson that should be taken from this is the powerlessness and hell that depression is. Go hug your friends, your family and tell them you love them as even the brightest star can be hiding hell of a lot of pain despite a big smile. As a sufferer myself I have nothing but awe that he was able to be so much to so many whilst fighting such a hard battle with his own demons.

You will be missed Sir

Tiny Author vs Giant Companies

Published 11/08/2014 by Lily Crussell

I was just sent an email (it can be found online here;
about a dispute between Amazon and Hachette about low e-book pricing. I admittedly have no idea of what it concerns and as I have no dealing with Hachette, had heard nothing about it.

From what I can tell (I skim read it) Hachette isn’t allowing Amazon to charge what it wants for e-books. In the email they essentially ask authors to write to Hachette and tell them they’re wrong. Me, tiny author with no dealings with huge publisher, is being lobbied to contact a HUGE company. Amazon is massive, Hachette is massive and you want lil ole me to get involved?

The email preaches about how lower e-book prices mean ‘helping the e-book culture’ among other things, but I feel they are missing some serious points;

-E-Books are taxed, paperbacks are not.
-An e-book is no less work for the author, the same effort and energy goes into it.
-Authors are always the ones that get screwed for THEIR work and their creativity.
-Amazon is notorious for trying to cut prices at the cost of the author. Due to its size Amazon can INSIST on lower prices which means less bookshops, less money for authors, publishers etc.

Now I don’t make diddly on my work on Amazon. My e-book maybe gets me about £3 every couple of months, and the story I submitted for the compilation has all the profits going to charity BUT I don’t agree with any huge corporation getting such a large say in a person’s creativity. They’re not the ones spending hours pouring their hearts out onto paper (or screens!) and all the other fun that comes from the writing process. They deal with the finished product (i.e when all the work is done) and some how take the lion’s share (In lion society, the females hunt, the males are lazy and do very little, it’s a good term to use!) whilst the authors seem to get very little.

I also fail to understand how such a huge entity is trying to enlist us teeny tiny artists in THEIR fight.

Basically, from what I can understand, Amazon wants authors to get EVEN LESS by putting the prices down EVEN MORE. They ‘justify’ this by saying cheaper books mean more sales, but this is of no benefit to someone who has to make a living from selling the things.
As a consumer, lower prices are good, but as an author there has to be a balance. I am in awe of a world where EVERYONE else is making more money from a body of work than the artist is.

Anyhoo, that’s my rant for the day. Check out the letter in the link above and see what you think.

Here’s a cute picture to calm me down from that epic rawring!



Misrepresentation of one of my Muses

Published 08/08/2014 by Lily Crussell

Lucifer in Chains – Paul Fryer

I love Lucy, I can’t deny it. Despite the bad press, I have to agree with him; Humans suck, and to put them above angels is a crazy thing to do. Having written about him in ‘Of Darkness and Light’ I am aware of the charisma of Lucifer (he was only supposed to be in a brief scene, but wouldn’t allow it to happen!) and maintain that he is just misunderstood.

Ok, being serious now, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Lucifer (my version) and whilst this sculpture is amazing, to me Lucifer is beautiful. His name means ‘Light bringer’ or ‘Morning Star’ and as such would be beautiful. He is always mentioned as tempting people into sin etc, and to do so would have to be physically appealing. This sculpture shows him to be ugly, and that makes me a little sad.

Anyhoo, enjoy this awesomeness.

Beware the Con Artists

Published 06/08/2014 by Lily Crussell

I entered a poetry competition a while back (I enter a lot and tend to forget about them) and recently received an email stating that my poem had been well liked and I would hear more via a letter within 4 weeks.
To me, that seems like an odd time frame. Had I won, I’d assume contact would be immediate. I also had a message left on my phone stating the same thing; no actual information given, just the promise of a letter. I didn’t call them back as I assumed the letter would be with me in days.

Today the letter came and I’m so angry. My poem didn’t win anything, but ‘made it to the short list’ so they wanted to include it in their new anthology. This would be all well and good…except they will be making money from MY WORK, and I have to pay £20 if I want a copy. £20 FOR MY OWN WORK. And to add to the fun, I can have my profile included if I pay another £17. If I buy 3 or more copies the price will be halved.

They’re missing a very serious point here. NO ONE pays that for a best selling book, so why would they pay it for poetry? They wouldn’t. They want the people featured to buy copies for friends and family etc.

I’ve been researching the ‘company’ (after not being impressed that their mailing address was an ‘admail’ one) to find that they’re notorious for this type of thing. One author submitted a poem that she knew was inferior just to see the response…and it was ‘selected’ to enter the anthology.

I went through this bull with ‘Mystic’ Press, the press that never was. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

I don’t know if I’m allowed to print the name of the ‘press’ company as I really have no desire to be sued, but I do want you all to be aware of this type of thing happening.

10 Ways to Increase your chances of being published

Published 30/06/2014 by Lily Crussell

This is a newbie list I wrote for an article for a website (which they never used) of ways to ensure your MS is more likely to be noticed.

It is harder than ever to become a published author, and whilst the likes of ‘Twilight’ and ’50 Shades of Grey’ seem to fly off the shelves, many talented authors have hard drives over flowing with amazing new ideas.
Being a failed author myself, I hope these tips will prevent you from making the same mistakes.

1. Get known BEFORE submitting your manuscript

Publishers and agents want a guaranteed hit on their hands, and this is easier to achieve with an author who already has several credits under their belt. This can include a popular blog, writing credits for local magazines or websites, or winning writing competitions. Writing magazines and local literary groups often run competitions that may appeal and though some may not have a tempting prize just having placed is always a benefit to your profile.

2. Ensure your manuscript is finished.

Often non fiction books can still be in the planning stages whilst being submitted due to their needing finance for research etc. This is not the case with fiction. Your manuscript must be polished and ready before sending it out to agents because of…

3. The Slush Pile.

Your manuscript has taken years to write, you’ve edited, polished, pruned and perfected it. Unfortunately so have most of the other authors who submit work. Agents have a derogatory term for all the submissions they receive; The Slush Pile. They are looking for any excuse not to use your work and it can be something as small as not spelling their name correctly. Agents are sent hundreds of queries EVERY DAY. It is infeasible for anyone to read every word sent to them so they are often quite brutal in rejecting work to make their lives easier. 

4. Beta Readers.

Friends, family and writing groups can be essential for critiquing your work, but you need to be sure that they’ll be honest. There are websites that offer Beta reading and critiquing on the condition that you offer the same to them. Having an outsider with no emotional attachment to the author or manuscript means that you are more likely to get the truth rather than empty compliments that friends or family will give as they try not to offend you.

5. Keep Writing.

Expect to be waiting months to hear back from agents, and during that time you must keep writing. It could be a follow up to the book you are currently sending out (agents will love the concept of a series as it means more money) blog entries…it really doesn’t matter as long as you keep at it to improve your skills and keep your mind active. Enter competitions, write articles for local papers…just keep writing.

6. Spelling and Grammar

Whilst the internet is awash with ‘experts’ on grammar and spelling, it is difficult in the real world to ensure that your work is perfect. Computer spell checkers are wonderful, but they won’t pick out words that are used out of context. They also won’t spot missing words or sentences that make no sense. There is also only so useful you will be at noticing errors as you will know the story and will fill in blanks without even realising. There are companies that specialise in such work, or you can find a buddy on the net you can trust to read it in exchange for your help.

7. Social Networking.

Admittedly there are so many different types I find it hard to keep up, but learn which ones are used the most by your target audience. If you’re writing for teens LinkedIn isn’t the way to go. Twitter or Facebook would serve you better. If your work is more academic, search for forums and sites that are better suited for your material. Always think audience!

8. Blow your own trumpet.

No one likes an arrogant self promoter as a friend, but when starting out in this industry, you’re the only one who can make yourself known. Tell the world about your achievements; if you are involved in something that is covered by the media, ask to be listed as ‘author John Doe’ or ‘teen fiction writer John Doe’ anything that alludes to your work as they will lead to people looking you up. Put links to your website or social media in the signatures of all your profiles and email addresses.

9. Network.

Authors are often anti social or suffer from social anxiety (I speak of those I know including myself) this makes any communication harder, but trying to break in to this industry is hard work. Make friends, be generous with your time, hand out business cards in as many situations as you can get away with. Be useful to people so they want to help you via promotion or introductions they can make.

10. Have things in place.

You need a website. It doesn’t have to be beautiful as long as it has contact details, information about yourself and what you write. A biography is always helpful as you can list previous work and link to it (this can be your blog etc) to ensure anything connected to your career is able to be found in one place. Use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals. Email, social networking, promotional items…anything that will show agents and publishers that you are ready and eager to break into this medium.

Olivier Awards (WARNING; There will be swearing)

Published 14/04/2014 by Lily Crussell

Or how to be made to feel like a complete piece of shit after financially destroying yourself to attend.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the awards. The seats were appalling, but we didn’t care, we were just really excited to be going. I bought a dress, practised doing make up over and over and have basically been able to think of nothing else for a fortnight. Tickets are £60 a pop, which isn’t a lot if you’re rich, but to me it is a HUGE amount. Add that to travel and the hostel I stayed in, and we’re in the region of £200+. I have been saving up and going without to ensure I would be dressed appropriately etc.

I stayed over in London in a hostel the night before and after so I didn’t have to panic and rush etc.

I spent the morning of 13th hanging out with friends and meeting up with peeps who had camped out and were doing the red carpet (and not going in to the ceremony) No one even know at this point if Mr. H would be attending, but we all had our fingers crossed.

I got back to my room about 2ish – meeting friends at 4. I didn’t want to start too early as I would be a wreck of nervousness. As it was I had to recurl my hair twice as my hands were shaking so much and I had to abandon anything interesting make up wise to ensure I didn’t poke and eye out/blind myself. I was running late and getting into a state about everything. I couldn’t walk in my shoes and I couldn’t afford a cab so would have to take the tube whilst being completely overdressed.

I make it to Covent Garden (the station is closed so I had to walk from Leicester Square) which would be fine if I wasn’t shaking and unable to walk in my stupid shoes. By the time I get there my feet hurt, but the excitement takes over.

The area is packed (but often is on the weekend due to performances in the piazza) and I find my way to the barrier-ed area. I can’t find my friends as they’re by the red carpet and we’re not allowed in at this point. I finally find another friend and we debate on where to go (it’s not remotely obvious where to enter from!)

A car pulls up – Gok Wan. When we’re finally allowed in, we have to walk up the red carpet, but the problem is you’re not allowed to stop (I understand that, it’s to keep the talent safe) but idiots are stopping to take selfies and it’t like being stuck in traffic. I pass Barbara Windsor and feel like a giant next to her 🙂

We make out way to the foyer and don’t know what to do now as our friends are still outside. There’s a champagne reception in the building, but I don’t drink and am too excited by the prospect of Hiddles. We have over 45 mins before we need to sit, so stand in the glass foyer watching through the window. We’re not in anyone’s way, we’re quiet and don’t act inappropriately. Other guests are milling around taking photos (I play photographer for a few)

We see Robert Lindsey, Jamees McAvoy, Martin Freeman, Brian May, my BELOVED Hadley Fraser – the other girls were SWOONING over him. He looks hella dashing without the Aufidius beard (it makes him look scary) and the man can rock a suit. His other half is up for an award, but I’m annoyed that he got no acknowledgement for Coriolanus as he was awesome. Anyway! We see Mark Gatiss and tonnes of stage actors that I don’t know, but my friends are excited about,

FINALLY, the crowd goes mental at the bottom of the red carpet. My friend finds out (via twitter lol) that Tom has arrived. He’s one of the last and the ceremony isn’t far off from starting. He’s getting closer, we can make out his head in the crowd. He’s signing for lots of people, talking to press etc and it’s taking him a while to get down the carpet. He’s half way down, I’m getting palpitations and shaking as I MIGHT ACTUALLY GET TO MEET HIM! Then one of the ushers come over and tell us to take our seats. On the ticket it says late comers can go into the awards during the interval. I politely say that we don’t mind missing the beginning and we’ll go in in the interval. Some of my friends that have tickets are still in the barrier area by the red carpet, so it can’t be that close to starting. The usher dude says; ‘No, take your seats NOW.’ and is getting in our faces. We’re not in anyone’s way, we’re not bothering anyone. Tonnes of famous people have walked past us and we haven’t murdered/attacked/harrassed any of them. We’re not screaming, crying or making a scene. We’re just stood there waiting.

I reply that we really don’t mind going in at the interval etc and the rude, horrible man says; ‘I’m not ASKING you, I’m telling you.’ We protest a little more (still polite, still calm) Tom must have been about 2 minutes away by this point. They’re not going to start without him! Other guests are still talking to the press, and as our seats are waaaaaay up in the sky, we won’t be disturbing anyone.

The usher/rude man repeats that he is not ‘asking’ us and practically marches us over to a lift. I’m nearly in tears as he has been so rude and aggressive, and Tom was so close. We’d waited there that long and it’d been fine, now we were so close we were being kicked out. The guy pressed the button on the lift (as apparently we’re too dumb to do it for ourselves) and we get to our floor. We have time to go to the toilet, so they can’t have been in that much of a hurry.

We get to the doors, our tickets are checked and then we’re making our way into the most ridiculous seats ever.

This is an OPERA house. People will be sat still for very long periods of time. They will be wearing high heels etc. There wasn’t room infront of the seats to get past even when people stood up. It was horrible. I had to grab random people to stop myself from falling over onto the people below. I’d have struggled in ‘normal’ shoes. We sit. The seats are so uncomfortable. At the Donmar you can pay £10 and the seats are fine. Here, you pay £60 and are so uncomfortable you want to punch someone.

There’s a delay of at least ten minutes. A guy comes onto the stage, does an announcement and then there’s ANOTHER delay. We could have waited out there and still had time to burn after I had finished reading the complete works of Shakespeare to Mr. H (slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean)

Something I have noticed from attending the NTAs earlier in the year, and now from the Oliviers, is that people are bastards. There was some famous woman in the row in front of us with her friend/bf and they didn’t shut up throughout the whole thing. People behind me were catcalling and talking loudly. People were getting up and walking out, then coming back in….NO ONE was sticking to the rules apart from us – the ‘crazy’ fangirls who had behaved immaculately and been spoken to like crap.

Sure, my dress was £30, my hair was pink, I can’t walk in my shoes and everything about me probably screams ‘common, poor person’ but I behaved. I was in a lot of pain from my shoes and back (the chairs) and I didn’t talk, didn’t use my phone, I paid attention and applauded etc. All around me people weren’t even watching, they were tweeting or taking photos, talking, moving etc.

Our seats meant we couldn’t see who was on the stage, though we could hear them, so it was slightly pointless.

AND THE INJUSTICE! Please explain to me how both Mark Gatiss and Tom Hiddleston missed out on their categories? I was so SURE that they would win, I felt like I’d misheard when there names weren’t called. Sure I’m biased, but they were both exceptional. It seems with The Oliviers that certain productions seem to be favourites and others are ignored. ‘Ghosts’, ‘Chimerica’ and other very random productions won everything. The Book of Mormon quite rightly got a few awards, but it just felt so political and not remotely to do with who deserved the award.

The interval. I am in so much pain from the chair that I am thankful to stand. Getting out is a nightmare due to the lack of space and we’re all falling over each other. The queue for the toilets is ridiculous, so we decide to try another floor. I’m not going to lie, it was in the back of my mind that Mr. H might be down there, but my bladder was very much the over riding factor.

We get out of the lift and the same rude man rushes over and says; ‘Your seats are in the amphitheatre UPSTAIRS’ as though we’re stupid. I tell him the queue for the toilets is long, and could I use the ones down there. He gets very uppity and narrows his eyes. ‘There are queues at all the toilets. Go back upstairs.’ I’m in shock at how I’m being spoken to. I’ve worked in customer service all my life and I would be fired if I spoke to a customer like that. I could understand if we were loud, obstructive etc etc, but I literally asked to go to the toilet. I wasn’t pushing past him and screaming out names.

He marches us back to the lift and presses the button for us again, treating us like petulant children. I ask him why he’s following us and being so rude when I just want to use the toilet and he sneers ‘I don’t believe that’ and waits for the doors to close.The lifts are weird and often open again on the same floor, so that when the doors open again, he’s staring at us in disgust like we did it on purpose.

I’m shaking by the time we get back upstairs. I had been so looking forward to this. I had spent a small fortune to get here, I’d followed all the rules (when no one else seemed to) and was being treated like I was beneath everyone else. I was choking back tears by the time I retake my seat and had to leave again as I was beginning to sniff and didn’t want to disturb anyone else. A guy on the door told me (he was lovely btw) that I could sit outside with the staff. Now that the queues are gone, I go to the toilet and end up bawling my eyes out. Mascara everywhere, eyes red, shaking at being made to feel like shit when I’d been so excited and hopeful.

The toilets are off the staircase down, so in theory, I could have run down to the other floors etc. No one followed me. No one asked where I was going. All the staff on our floor were lovely. I went back to the seats outside with the staff who were watching it all on tv. Holy crap the difference! I could actually see! I would have been so much better off doing the red carpet, not buying new clothes etc and actually getting to see it on the screens. It was an expensive, stressful, upsetting waste of time and we saw nothing. I got up to go to the toilet again at some point, and no one cared, they didn’t check where I was going or interrogate me.

By the end of the ceremony I looked like hell; my eyes were red, my mascara was beyond saying, my feet were just blisters and my back was killing me. We got the lifts and were sent back outside. That was it. The whole thing. I wasn’t in any mood to wait around afterwards as there were CROWDS of people.

I found out today that most of my friends that went on the red carpet (and had tickets) got to meet Tom, have photos and get things signed. Essentially had I saved my money and just rocked up in jeans, I might have actually met him, and let with my dignity intact.

T apparently came out at about 2am after the after party. I couldn’t have waited that long due to trains, my stupid shoes and the fact that it was really cold! Some people who’d already met him got to again, more photos etc. I figure if they’re willing to wait, why not.

This has got to be the 15th time I have attended an event with him and missed him. It isn’t funny any more. People seem to meet him several times, and I haven’t met him once. 15 bleeping times. At least. And I always follow the rules, I don’t push, I don’t stalk, I don’t follow, I don’t hang around where he lives. I don’t scream at him, grab at him, shove, swear etc etc etc that I have seen other people do. I behave and all I seem to get is abuse from staff and an empty bank account. There is not enough chocolate in the world to fix how I feel today.