Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wrap-up Self-Publishing Panel Sydney Writers Festival 2013

The 23rd May, 2013 came into being during a relentless autumn downpour. This was a tragedy! How was I going to walk from the Domain car park to the NSW State Library without my hair suffering ruination? How could I talk at the Sydney Writers Festival on The Forest for the Trees self-publishing panel if I looked like a smelly, old dog who’d just rolled in a muddy puddle?

With my umbrella glued to my head, I walked along the Macquarie Street footpath, cursing every raindrop. Just shy of my destination, when I thought I had survived nature’s onslaught and retained fabulous hair, some jerk, from the warm, dry comfort of his motor vehicle, swamped me with a wave of wet stuff when he (I’m assuming it was a man because they are always doing silly things) drove through a massive puddle and drenched my jeans. I think I actually growled and I definitely swore. Marching on, determined to ignore my plight, I reached my destination.

Okay, enough of the theatrics. I’ll get down to business now. I was honoured to be asked by the organisers of the Sydney Writers Festival (the biggest writers festival in Australia) to sit on the self-publishing panel. I love sharing what I’ve learnt in the last year and a half, with other writers who are dreaming of life as a published author and here was an awesome opportunity.

Chairing the panel was the kind and knowledgable author and crowd-funding specialist, Anna Maguire. She asked awesome questions of myself and the two other authors (who were also wonderful peeps), Chris Allen and Elisabeth Storrs.

From left to right: Elisabeth Storrs, Dionne Lister, Anna Maguire, Chris Allen

From left to right: Elisabeth Storrs, Dionne Lister, Anna Maguire, Chris Allen

Our roads to self-publishing were different: I have always (and probably always will be) self-published, Chris started as self-published but is now with Momentum Publishing, and Elisabeth started with a traditionally published book, but  moved to be self published and actually decided not to renew her publishing contract when her publisher was bought out by another company. We all agreed that professional self-publishing is a good avenue for aspiring writers to pursue. Here are some pertinent points from our discussion (some of them refer to trad published authors too):

1. Have a blog/website.

2. Interact in the social media forum where you feel most comfortable.

3. Have your book edited!!!! One of the questions was “How much does it cost?” Editors charge at different rates—I’d say as a general rule between $40-$80 an hour (depending on their experience,  reputation, and workload). The quote you receive also depends on the amount of time it will take to edit your work and the word count. When I edit, if the writing is good, I can edit up to 4,000 words an hour, if the writing is not so good, it can take an hour to edit 1,500 words, so prices for a 60,000 word book could range anywhere from $750-$2,500. If your writing is really not ready for editing, the editor should tell you and not take the job. If this happens with me, I edit a paragraph and tell the author to go away, learn what I’ve explained and apply it to the book before resubmitting. A good editor won’t want to waste your time or theirs.

4. Have your book proof-read.

5. Spend time creating a great cover which is relevant to your genre or set aside a budget to pay a professional.

6. Be patient: it takes time for the word to spread about your book and you want to be in it for the long haul.

7. This is a business so treat it like one and realise you will need to invest money and a lot of time.

8. Traditional publishing is not all it’s cracked up to be. Elisabeth felt that her original publisher supported her with editing and cover, but only provided marketing and support for six weeks after her book came out. She is much happier as a self-published author and she retains all her royalties (you have to sell three to four times the amount of books as a trad published author to receive the same royalties). Incidentally, Elisabeth was so happy with her editor that she now pays her on a freelance basis to edit her self-published books.

9. You have total control as a self-published author. You can see what marketing works because you have access to your sales figures and you get paid every six weeks to three months (if your book is selling). With a traditional publisher, you must wait six months to be paid.

10. As a self-published author you have the ability to price the book to sell. I have seen many (not all) of the big publishers price their authors’ e-books out of the market because they are trying to protect their print interests. If you don’t believe me, check out some of these books on Amazon. I buy a lot of e-books for Club Fantasci and I often have to pay between $10 and $15 for an e-book!

11. The support of other writers is invaluable. Connect with authors on Twitter or Facebook because they will answer your questions about how to upload to Amazon, or who is a good editor, they will spread the news of your book sales, and they will support you with a kind word or funny anecdote on the days you receive a bad review or the weeks when you’ve hardly sold any books.

12. The credibility of self-published authors is still suffering because too many of these authors write a first draft and press the ‘publish’ button. If we want to be taken seriously, we all need to follow the professional route (ie editing, learning the craft, doing good covers) and encourage other self-published authors we know to do the same.

Something we didn’t discuss on the day, as we ran out of time (we could have talked all day), was, in my opinion, the importance of learning your craft. If you can’t afford a university degree in creative writing or literature, there are many online or local courses you can take. If you live in Sydney, The NSW Writers Centre has loads of fantastic courses run by some of the most experienced and talented writers in Australia, as does the Australian Writers Centre.

I predict that many mid-list, traditionally published authors, will decide to self-publish in the coming years. Why wouldn’t you if you have an established fan base and great editing/cover contacts since you will earn a lot more money?

If you want your book to shine, to impress people, and to sell; if you want to survive in the new age of publishing, be professional and patient. I’m happy to say that self-publishing is no longer a dirty word (even though a lot of publishers still scoff at self-published authors) and it will continue to lose its negative connotations if we all work on doing the right thing. If you are an author considering self publishing, I wish you all the best. Feel free to contact me on twitter or through my facebook page if you have any questions on the subject. Cheers and thanks again to the organisers of The Sydney Writers Festival!

13 Comments

Filed under Dionne's Blog

Short Story—A Chill in the Chimes

Here is a suspense/horror story I wrote about a year ago. I have it for sale on Amazon and Smashwords for 99 cents, but I thought ‘what the hell?’ why don’t I just share it, cause if you like it, you might go and buy Dark Spaces, my book of short, suspenseful stories. Please read and enjoy!

A Chill in the Chimes large copy

The cottage at 124 Cook Street huddled in darkness. Bony twigs intermittently tapped on the window. Yellowed curtains trembled, as cold gusts poked teasing fingers through the cracked panes. Nature’s epilepsy shook the Smith’s wind chime, sending otherworldly notes ringing into the storm.

Serrated light slashed and blinded, and deep, sonorous thunder vibrated the home to its foundations. A bone-breaking crack tore a muscled appendage from the scribbly gum. The timbered weight fell; a guillotine slicing, sending shards of red tiles stabbing into the rain. Water bled into the wound. The chimes lay strangled on the front porch while 124 Cook Street waited in waterlogged silence for morning.

***

Andrew stood amongst the carnage of last night: shredded leaves, broken branches, strips of bark from trees skinned alive. He stared at the wounded weatherboard cottage. 124 Cook Street needed help. He resisted the urge to rub his hands together as he trod up the two steps to the front door. A wind chime lay tangled on the porch, its silver fingers mangled and arthritic. Andrew prodded it with a booted toe and knocked on the door.

When no one answered, he rapped again. Still nothing. He looked over his shoulder. An SES car inched past, surveying the damage. No one else was about. He turned the handle and gently pushed. The door creaked open, and he extended his head into the gap. ‘Hello?’ His voice croaked. He cleared his throat, ‘Hello? Is anyone home?’

An elderly lady shuffled through a door at the end of the hallway. She smiled the too-perfect smile of dentures. Deep lines ran from the corners of her mouth to her jaw, and Andrew was reminded of an animated, yet lifeless, ventriloquist’s dummy.

‘Can I help you?’  She reached the front door and her wrinkled lips settled closed.

‘I’m with the Emergency Services. The branch that fell through your roof has done heaps of damage. You must be flooded. I need to come in and take a look, make sure it’s safe.’ He slid his hand into his pocket and ran a thumb along the hilt of his knife, feeling the smooth bumps, which suggested the torso of a mermaid.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Phillip Baker.’ He extended the mermaid-fondling hand, and she shook it.

‘Pleased to meet you Mr Baker, I’m Gladys Smith. Please come in.’

Andrew understood why her hand was so cold when he stepped inside the dimly lit hallway. Green floral wallpaper peeling at the cornices, and spotted with stains of rising damp, complimented the shag-pile carpet, which reminded him of dead grass in its brownness. As mould spores tickled his nose, he was six years old again, crying and waving goodbye to his mother from his grandparents’ hallway. She never returned.

As he followed Gladys he wondered if he’d picked the wrong house. What could they possibly have to steal? He hoped to find some of the old woman’s jewellery, or maybe the clichéd stash of cash under the mattress. Stupid old people.

Both his hands sought the warmth of his pockets as they reached the lounge room.  The ceiling shed flakes of dandruff over everything. A brown velour sofa sat facing an old walrus of a television; the type that you’d have to pay to have removed. He scanned the contents of a dusty wall-unit and saw the crap it had taken Gladys a lifetime to accumulate. Not much to show for her existence: lace doilies, two ceramic figurines—pink ladies with parasols—and a row of faded floral plates on stands. He turned to speak to the old woman, but the room was empty.

He hadn’t seen or heard her leave. Was he so caught up in looking at nonsensical knick-knacks that he’d forgotten what he was doing? The quicker he got this over with, the better. Looking forward to the bottle of Jack Daniels and few hours of oblivion he’d buy with part of the proceeds, he turned back to the hallway, thinking Gladys’s bedroom would be one of the front rooms.

‘Would you like a cup of tea?’

Andrew stopped and brought a hand up to his chest, goose bumps peppering his arms. When he turned back, Gladys stood right behind him. What the hell? ‘Um, ok. That would be great thanks. I was just looking for the damaged ceiling. I need to see it so I can let you know what it will take to fix.’ If she didn’t leave him alone he’d have to let the knife do the persuading: it wouldn’t be the first time he’d used it.

‘That can wait young man. I’d rather you didn’t go in there right now. My husband’s asleep.’ Her dark eyes picked at something within him, something he refused to acknowledge as fear. ‘Now sit down. How do you take your tea?’

‘Look, it won’t take long, and I’ve got other houses to look at.’

She stared at him, eyes narrowing.

‘White and one please.’

She nodded, and her mouth curled up ever so slightly.

His need itched, but he ignored it and lowered himself onto the dusty lounge. How could anyone sleep in a saturated bed? A clammy miasma enveloped him, and the room darkened. He remembered his grandparents’ wrath, and waiting for his mother; always waiting. Still waiting.

The sharp smell of freshly turned earth was so strong he could taste the grit. He looked down and imagined he could see thousands of dirt-encrusted worms writhing within the graveyard of ancient carpet.  Fuck her and her tea. He jumped up and strode to the hall, pulling the knife out of his pocket as he went.

Two closed doors waited for him to choose. The tree had fallen on the room to his left. He reached for the handle and added Xanax to his to-buy list. He looked over his shoulder. Gladys wasn’t there. He breathed out and turned the knob, muscles tensed, waiting for the squeak of the door as he inched it open. A stronger smell of earth, mildew and something else, crawled out of the darkness—he gagged. Covering his mouth with a sleeve, he paused and thought of giving up for real this time, walking out, maybe finding another house; but the thought of being so close, and the voice that called him a pathetic coward, goaded him to continue.

He ducked in and closed the door. His fingers felt for the light-switch. Click. Nothing. He pulled the knife out of his pocket and strained to see. A large shadow hulked in front of him. His heart raced, and he stepped forward, the carpet squelching under his boots. He could just make out the outline of a bed seeping out of the gloom, and the bigger shadow was most likely the ceiling collapsed on top of it, still attached by a plastered crease to the beams above.

With the door closed, the smell he couldn’t define fleshed out and became something he recognised: the syrupy tang of decay. He coughed through his sleeve, and his eyes watered. Stealing from the bottle-o would be easier than this. He found his excuse and hurried to the door, waving the knife in front of him, trying to swipe away the dread that pushed through his pores.

As he reached for the handle, the door opened in a rush, the putrefied air sucked into the void. Gladys. Her wrinkled hand, with its paper-thin, liver-spotted skin, grasped a carving knife. She smiled her wooden smile. ‘I told you not to go in there. You came to steal, didn’t you? You picked the wrong house, sonny boy.’ She cackled and thrust herself forward. Andrew dropped his knife and grabbed at her arms, his fingers sinking into wrinkled folds of flesh.

The strength of the old woman surprised Andrew, and he screamed when the knife pierced his skin. Gladys’s gurgling laugh accompanied the blood seeping out of Andrew’s stomach. He sank to the floor, gasping his demise, while his clothes soaked up stagnant moisture.

The old woman stood over him. She reached down, pulled the knife out and lifted her arm to strike again. Footsteps sounded on the porch, and Andrew screamed. The front door burst in. The knife came down.

***

Andrew woke as they finished strapping him to the gurney. He listened, eyes closed, to the voices around him.

‘Crazy shit indeed. Some SES workers heard him screaming.’

‘Lucky. How long do you reckon that old couple ‘ave been dead?’

‘Looks like at least a month. The guy we got here stabbed himself. God knows why. We found I.D. and confirmed his grandparents used to live here, before that other old couple, Gladys and Bob. He was a ward of the state for a while. Stuffed in the head I reckon.’

‘Ha, you can say that again. Anyway, better get him out of here before he bleeds to death.’

The ambulance drove down Cook Street, past injured houses, ruined gardens, ravished trees. The damage would be cleaned up, patched, made new again. What couldn’t be fixed would be taken away, dumped, and forgotten.

At 124, a policeman noticed the silver reflection of sunlight hitting the wounded wind chime. He picked it up and smiled. It would look great all polished up and hanging from his front porch. His wife would love it. As he dangled it from one hand, he brushed the chimes with his other; discordant notes sounded a lament.

A chill licked the back of Andrew’s neck. The wailing of the siren drowned out his screams.

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Dionne's Blog, Dionne's books, Short stories

Shadows of the Realm—Bloopers

While writing Shadows of the Realm and A Time of Darkness, there were times when my characters would embarrass themselves and they begged me not to include those scenes. I have, up until now, kept them secret, but I’ve decided to do a ‘bloopers’ series. This is the first excerpt from that series. Please enjoy my characters stuffing up on the job.

INSIDE THE MOUNTAIN IN VELLONIA, CITY OF THE DRAGONS—MORNING

Bronwyn, Blayke and their creaturas entered the vast dining hall.  One of the long timber tables was set with a farewell breakfast. Pancakes, fresh strawberries, gozzleberries, fried bacon and the extra-large eggs of the Vellonian eagle—cooked sunny-side up—lay enticingly upon platters on the tabletop. Bronwyn breathed in. “Yum. That smells delicious.” She sat on one of the large bench seats, legs dangling, while Sinjenasta lay behind her chair, the large panther having enjoyed his haunch of venison outside earlier. Blayke sat opposite, grabbing his fork and stabbing into a pancake, dumping it into his plate before spreading a clump of butter on top. Fang, the rat, peeked out of Blayke’s pocket and took the small piece of pancake the realmist offered him.

Zim, the black dragon prince, entered as Blayke shoved a forkful of pancake into his mouth.

“Good morning, my friends. How did you sleep?”

“Good thanks,” said Bronwyn as she scooped strawberries onto her pancake. “I’ll be sad to leave today.”

“We’ll be sad to see you go, young realmist. I’m sure you’ll be back one day.”

“I hope so.” Bronwyn smiled as Zim sat next to her and spiked a piece of bacon with one claw, an egg with another, popping them into his mouth. “Mmm, this is good.” Suddenly a loud rumble rolled through the dining hall. “Oops. Excuse me.” Zim’s dinner-plate size eyes looked from Bronwyn to Blayke and back again.

“Oh my gods! Did you just … um, pass wind?” Bronwyn coughed and covered her mouth and nose with her hand.

“Wow, that stinks!” Blayke snatched another pancake and stood. “I’m gonna have to finish this outside.”

Bronwyn’s voice was muffled by her palm. “I’ll join you.”

Wait for me said Sinjasta.

“I’m sorry. Come back. It’s not that bad, is it? Really?” Zim sniffed as he watched them hurry out. Suddenly alone, he surveyed the food. “I’m going to have to stop eating eggs, at least when we have company. Oh well, I have no company now, and this food won’t eat itself.” The dragon reached over towards the eggs…

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Dionne's Blog, Dionne's books

Children’s Book Giveaway from Julie Grasso

Today I’m featuring a fellow Aussie author. She’s having a giveaway of both of her books and a $30 gift voucher which ends on the 19th of May. Her first book is Escape From the Forbidden Planet and the next book, Return to Cardamom, which I’m proud to say I edited :). They are great children’s to early teen books. If your kids are looking for something new to read, go to Julie’s website and enter the rafflecopter now!

Image

Life is sweet for Caramel and things are finally getting back to normal.
Well, as normal as it can be for a telepathic elf who can train trees and
control computers, but she soon finds life on Cardamom is not all cupcakes
and apple cider.  A saboteur is hiding in the rainforest canopy, and the
elves’ precious cardamom export has been wiped out. Caramel is certain it’s
another trick of Alexander222 and her Aunt Isabel, but no one will believe
her, and the clock is ticking. She must expose the saboteur in time to save
the crop or the Elves of Cardamom will lose their livelihood.
Caramel won’t rest until her theory is proven. While she is on the hunt, she
makes a shocking discovery, one that will change everything.

Website:  www.julieannegrassobooks.com

Blog: http://www.whenigrowupiwannawriteakidsbook.blogspot.com.au/

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16060026-escape-from-the-forbidden-planet

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Anne-Grasso-books/287496411357122

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jujuberry37

6 Comments

Filed under Dionne's Blog

Action-packed Paranormal Romance on Sale!

Everyone loves a sale, and, although I don’t do a lot of promotion for other authors on my blog, this is one author I’m happy to share with everyone. Charity writes fast-paced books with fantastic characters, humour and heat. If you like paranormal romance which is unpredictable, you should grab your copy now!

The Society of Sinners will be on sale from 14th May, for 0.99. Snag your copy now from the following outlets, before the price increases.

Amazon: viewBook.at/B0053482GW
B &N: http://bit.ly/Q60a2Z
SW: http://bit.ly/MdJHLa
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Society-of-Sinners/book-4fnG7_BwhEqQDe1xVXhZHA/page1.html?s=leNojui_ckq4XROpPKaHmw&r=1
All Romance Ebooks:https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thesocietyofsinners-1148947-139.html

The Society of Sinners

The Society of Sinners

Blurb

“Evil lives in the dark. We instinctively know this as children.”
Nestled high in the mountains…

The quiet community of Jackson Station is where everyone knows your name and…species?

Vampires have existed since almost the beginning of time, but not in the way we have been led to believe. These were not men cursed by the devil but warriors blessed by God to have great strength, agility, and eternal life.
Eternal life came at a price, the price of human blood. Some chose to live within their own society; The Society of Sinners.

This is the first in Charity Parkerson’s new sinners series introducing a paranormal world filled with vampires, werewolves, changeling, and God’s greatest warrior.

Teaser

He was cloaked from head to toe in black, with black leather gloves covering both hands. His odd hair color of black, blonde, and red stood out starkly against the absence of color in his clothing. A pair of dark shades covered his eyes, hiding his true identity, but Mika was no fool; that was a trap she wouldn’t fall for again.
There was a matching chair to one side of his that was separated only by a small round table. She fancied it was something an old married couple would do, kicking back in recliners next to each other at the end of a long day. She threw herself down wearily in the chair next to him.

“Hello, Dimitri, it has been awhile.”

“You do not seem surprised to see me.”

“Well, I heard you were kicking up trouble again.”

“Are they mad about the dog?” he asked, incredulous. “Gabe’s a tough guy; he would’ve survived it.”

“I’m not going to lie. Gabe is pretty pissed, but I think it has more to do with the other shit you’ve done over the years. Now I hear you can change into anything,” she added. “You’re getting better. It used to only be other people.”

Dimitri shrugged with indifference. “What do they plan?”

Mika shrugged as well. “To trap you and run some tests on your blood. I don’t know what they plan after that. You’ll probably be judged for your crimes.”

A low chuckle sounded from deep within his chest. “How do they intend to trap me?” He thought for a moment, then added, “Perhaps they think to wait until I turn into a bird, and then they’ll put me in a cage. Then I shall turn into a lion just to watch their faces as the cage is destroyed underneath my weight.” He laughed at his own description.

Mika leaned back in her chair, crossing her feet at the ankles, matching Dimitri’s pose.

“I do not know,” she answered tiredly.

He turned his head to watch her, his expression hidden from her behind his dark glasses. They simply stared at one another for a moment before he whispered, “Perhaps they think you will convince me to turn myself in if only you ask.”

“Do you break my heart on purpose?” she asked, a tear slipping from the corner of her eye. “By looking at me with his face and talking to me using his voice?”

He looked away before answering. “Yes,” then after a moment, he whispered, “No.”
He pushed from his chair and moved to stand over her. Using his foot, he kicked her chair closed while pulling her to her feet. He wrapped her in his embrace, and she went willingly, feeling her heart crack open anew at the feel of Dominic’s body against hers, even though mentally she knew it was only an illusion. He lowered his head to hers, giving her the chance to say “no,” but when the words never came, he brushed her lips with his own. Her tears fell unchecked between them, but, undeterred, he deepened the kiss while searching for the hem of her shirt with his fingertips. He pulled away only long enough to tug the shirt over her head, then returned to her mouth. She kissed him back just as fiercely, trying desperately to cling to the dream of Dominic. Her bra fell away beneath his fingers and his hot tongue moved from her lips to her breast. He sucked lightly, drawing her pebbled nipple in between his teeth. A moan escaped from her chest as he moved back up to her neck, and she felt his sharp teeth scratch against her skin. She tugged his hair with both hands, pulling him away. “If there is a shred of love in your heart for me, you will not do this to me while wearing his face.”

Before her eyes, his features transformed back to those of Dimitri’s and he looked at her from his own familiar face. Reaching up, she removed his sunglasses, revealing his light-blue eyes. His dark-red hair was similar to hers in coloration, and a light smattering of freckles across his nose left him with a look of innocence that caused women to flock to him over the ages. He looked like a boy of nineteen instead of a man who had lived for centuries.

“That’s better,” she breathed, drawing him close to her in a kiss so hot he was left panting.

3 Comments

Filed under Dionne's Blog, Uncategorized

Shadows of the Realm Nominated in 2013 eFestival of Words Awards!

eFestival of Words Awards

eFestival of Words Awards

My days just get more and more exciting. I’m proud and happy to announce that my debut novel Shadows of the Realm has been nominated in two categories in the eFestival of Words Awards. It’s an award solely (that word looks weird, solely, hmm, anyway…) for self-published authors and authors who are published with small indie presses. Shadows of the Realm has been nominated in the Fantasy and the YA categories and I’ve even been nominated for an editing award for Amber Jerome-Norrgard’s short story, David. I’ve noticed that Wool, by Hugh Howie, is in there too, so he adds some awesome cred to these awards.

The books are nominated by your peers and then the field is narrowed down by hard-working volunteers who work with eFestival of Words. Then comes the scary part: on the 1st June, 2013, the final list of books is announced and can be voted on by the reading public (although you have to be a registered member of their site to vote). I’m sure I’ll be hounding everyone for votes when the time comes. Even if I’m not an overall winner, I’m so happy just to make it as a nominated author and editor. I’d also like to say good luck to all the other authors who have been nominated. I hope you’re all as excited as I am!

Shadows of the Realm

Shadows of the Realm

19 Comments

Filed under Dionne's Blog

Dark Spaces—Book of Suspenseful Short Stories—on Sale!

Dark Spaces is a collection of suspenseful short stories that deal with the darkness in human nature, and it’s on sale now for only 99 cents! OMG, what can you buy for 99 cents these days? A third of a coffee, ten toothpicks, one peanut? Trust me, it’s a bargain.

Dark Spaces by Dionne Lister

Dark Spaces by Dionne Lister

Dark Spaces has been getting great reviews, but I’ve been neglecting promotion because my fantasy series has been begging for my attention. So now it’s Dark Space’s turn. Run out and grab your copy while it’s still 99 cents. This promotion will run for two weeks (until the 18th May, 2013).

You can download from Smashwords (which has every format you could want) and Amazon. Happy reading, or should I say scary reading ;).

8 Comments

Filed under Dionne's Blog, Dionne's books