Author Kelly Stone Gamble Has a Question for You

bio shot Kelly Gamble

One of my awesome author friends, Kelly Stone Gamble, has just had her debut fiction, They Call Me Crazy, published by Red Adept Publishing. In honour of the release, and because she’s running around doing the promo thing all of us authors must do, she’s visiting to ask you all an interesting question:

Journaling-Yes or No?

Dear Diary,

Mark is the cutest boy ever! I want to marry him someday.

Kelly + Mark=forever!

These are the words I was taunted with for several months in the fifth grade. Of course, writing them in my diary should have made them private, but when you have an older brother, especially a nosy one that knows exactly where to find your private diary, you aren’t always guaranteed that your inner most thoughts will remain private.

As an adult, I don’t keep a diary, nor do I journal. I tried, but I found myself too worried about what someone might learn about me if they found it, so I held back, or just lied. Lying to your journal kind of defeats the purpose. But I do see the value in writing things down: thoughts, ideas, dreams. But is there a point where you limit yourself? And am I being foolish for caring what others would think?

One of my favorite aspects of writing is the research process, and when I was working on a historical fiction novel set in the 1930’s, I spent a lot of time going through the writings of those that lived during the period. It’s amazing what you can learn about people by reading their thoughts, especially those from a time long ago. So another side of me thinks that if I started journaling, my words may be valuable to a writer in the future, and what a wonderful gift I could share with them.

But every time I try to start again, Mark, (the cutest boy ever) pops into my head, and I can’t write a word. Not. One. Word.

So maybe I should just stick to fiction.

Do you keep a journal? Why or why not?

Thanks for the post Kelly! I hope we get some answers. I don’t keep one, but I used to — it always helped when I was going through ‘stuff’. And if anyone wants to check out her new release, which looks amusing and suspenseful, click on the book cover below and you will be magically whisked away to Amazon. If you like Kelly’s style, you can visit her website too.

They Call me Crazy

One (High) fantasy writer to another (MG) fantasy writer.

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I guess I should introduce myself before starting this post. I’m Cas Peace, the UK author of the Artesans of Albia fantasy series. The reason for this post (and many thanks to Dionne Lister for inviting me on to her blog!) is that I’m relaunching the series now that the first trilogy is complete.

Of course, that hints at more books to come. Yes – there are two more trilogies – making nine books in all! The first three, King’s Envoy, King’s Champion, and King’s Artesan, are all available RIGHT NOW on Amazon, and for the duration of this blog tour (December 12 – 18) will be offered at some great prices.

So, the theme of this post is one fantasy writer to another. I’ll confess that I didn’t know much about Dionne or her books before this, but I do know a few things. I know she writes epic fantasy, and that she writes about dragons. Ok – two of my most favorite things! My own books are epic fantasy, although mine are usually classed as High Fantasy, and mine are aimed primarily at adults, whereas Dionne’s target readership is a touch younger. Yet from what I can see, our respective readerships would cross over quite easily. I have had 12-yr-olds read and really enjoy my books, and Dionne has clearly had the same reaction from adults. Fantasy readers are some of the most accepting readers out there, I think!

My fascination with fantasy started with Anne McCaffrey’s dragons of Pern, and I’ve yet to see a writer ‘do’ dragons better (I’m prepared to be persuaded, though!). When I began my own writing, everyone who knew me assumed my books would be about dragons. They were astounded when I told them there wasn’t a single dragon in them! The creature depicted on the front of King’s Envoy is as close as I come: it’s called a tangwyr and it’s a sort of eagle-cross-bat. Nasty guy!

The other thing I know about Dionne is that she likes to use ‘proper’ English. This is another area where we are alike as writers. I treasure our language and as a fantasy writer, I’ve created my fair share of fantasy names and words. Language is wonderful like that – it really lends itself to being bent and moulded to our needs. But what every reader needs in order to appreciate a writer’s work is a good grounding in the basic rules of language. I feel very strongly that children should be taught how to spell properly and how to punctuate. It’s not that hard if taught correctly!

Dionne also likes poetry. I’m not a big reader of poetry per se, but I do use it in my books in the form of songs. I’m also a singer/songwriter, and my main female character, Sullyan, is a musician and singer. She has music in her background, and so it was inevitable that she would sing at some point in my books. I decided that this would be a good USP for my books, and so I recorded all the three songs from my first trilogy, and they are offered on my website as FREE downloads. They also feature in the series trailer. See the links below.

I don’t know about Dionne, but I sometimes find myself writing prose that almost comes out as poetry. Fantasy novels lend themselves to this, I think. Much of Tolkien’s writing has a very lyrical quality to it, and of course, there are songs in his books, too.

The last thing I know about Dionne that links us is that she likes chocolate. Me too! Many a difficult chapter has been written to a chocolate accompaniment. I believe it fuels the brain cells, and I won’t hear anyone tell me different! What do you think, Dionne? Ha! I agree, Cas. And the prose/poetry thing is right too. It’s our way of being lyrical. And thanks for joining me today, Cas, it’s been a pleasure learning all about your writing. Now everyone should go and check out her awesome fantasy books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

cas-peace

Cas Peace was born in Hampshire UK, in 1957, and has lived there most of her life. Her first career was as a horse-riding instructor, and horses remain very close to her heart. She then spent 13 years working for the British Civil Service before leaving the UK to live in Italy for three years, 1991-1994. She speaks passable but by no means perfect Italian, and loves to return to Italy whenever she can.

Cas’s other great loves are anything to do with animals, especially dogs and horses, (she supports many animal charities) and also singing. Cas loves folk songs and along with her husband, who plays guitar, has performed in many a Southern England folk club. Sometimes they even asked her back! She writes folk songs to accompany her fantasy novels, and offers them as free downloads from her website.

Artesans of Albia series synopsis.

On a foolhardy foray into a foreign realm, Taran Elijah is attacked by a terrible weapon known as the Staff. Killing its wielder, he escapes into Albia, inadvertantly carrying the Staff.

Concerned by the vicious raids that follow Taran’s actions, Major Sullyan of the High King’s forces crosses into Andaryon to seek diplomatic resolution to the crisis. She is captured and tortured by Lord Rykan, aspirant to the Andaryon throne.

Slowly dying, Sullyan escapes his clutches. She offers her skills to the Hierarch in defense of his throne, finally confronting Rykan on the field of battle.

Her handsome Captain and lover, Robin Tamsen, embarks on a desperate quest to recover the Staff. But Rykan’s greedy General, Sonten, is two steps ahead of him. If Robin cannot lay hold of the weapon before Sonten does, Sullyan’s life and the lives of all Artesans are forfeit.

The race for the Staff has begun.

ADVANCED PRAISE FOR King’s Artesan

“One of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. The balance between background story and action is just perfect. I’m very glad I found this author. You won’t want to miss this series!” ~Denyse Cohen, author of Witch’s Soulmate, Book 1 of the Living Energy Trilogy

“Splendidly written in a wonderful voice, drew me in immediately. Ms. Peace’s imagination alone gets 5 stars. Spectacular worlds and enchanting scenes. Anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a world of a charming fantasy with plenty of layers and a host of intriguing characters won’t be disappointed!” ~Rosary McQuestion, author of Once Upon Another Time

“As soon as I finished this book I was eager to start the next. I highly recommend this book. Great Job!!” ~Janus Gangi, author of Elizabeth Rose and That Morning After

 

Find Cas Peace on her website: www.caspeace.com

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cas.peace

Her Blog: www.peacewrites.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @CasPeace1

See the Artesans of Albia Trilogy Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76ORbCO_wGI

There are also some awesome giveaways associated with Cas’s tour, so check out her website for details and maybe you’ll win.

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What … I’m a Must-Read Author? Woohoo!

If you hate people patting themselves on the back, leave now :). Well, it’s not just a case of that, but also of taking a moment to appreciate how far I’ve come and know that no matter how hard it gets in this writing game, someone values my work.

When I first started my writing journey, I dreamed of success, but my realistic hope was that a few people, outside the safe-haven of family and friends, would read my books. Well, I’ve achieved that with the added bonus that this month I was named by iTunes Australia as one of “10 Emerging Fantasy Authors You Must Read.”

That’s so exciting (well it is for me)! I’m so happy and can’t quite believe I get to say that someone’s said that about me. I’m sure you all know what I mean; you strive so long for something, and it’s your dream to be recognised as someone with at least a little bit of skill or talent and then one day someone does it in a very public way. Praise doesn’t come along every day — indeed sometimes it’s the opposite — so I’m going to enjoy it. Whenever I doubt myself, I can look at my screenshot and smile :).

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Thank you to the peeps at iTunes for giving me such an awesome accolade and for supporting indie authors alongside the traditionally published ones, and thank you to all the readers who have bought my books — I get excited every time I know someone new is going to read one of my books.

It’s time for me to go as I have to finish writing the third and last book in my fantasy series. Have a great day everyone!

Say G’day to Author Seumas Gallacher

Today I’m hosting a guest post by best-selling Scottish author, Seumas Gallacher. Please excuse his accent and sorry if you have to listen carefully to understand what he’s saying ;). Have to say, I love the book covers! Now I’ll pass it over to the man himself *claps in welcome*.

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If yeez don’t ask, yeez don’t get… Readers/Book Bloggers of AUSTRALIA, this ol’ Jurassic needs you! … #TBSU…

…in my acne-and-angst-ridden teens, pursuit of members of the fair sex was a lottery… in the Scottish Hebridean Island of Mull, we youths often entertained ourselves at weekends by attending  ceilidhs and dances at the local village halls around the island… despite not yet having reached the age of 20, Dutch Courage was much fortified with the electric soup (whisky…uisge beatha…the water of life… liquid seeds of hangovers)… quarter-bottles of Johnnie Walker/Lang’s/White Horse/whatever-distilled-poison the Scotch-liquor salesmen were then currently peddling to the off-sales shops appeared in rotation from sundry inside-jacket pockets…outside the dance hall area, of course… we Scots do have some decorum in our getting p*ssed… resolve thus strengthened, the ritual began… the asking-some-fair-lassie-if-she’d-like-to-dance routine… yeez may be surprised to learn that frequent refusal to indulge in toe-trampling with drunken youths was the order of the day (evening)… undaunted, yer bold Master Gallacher would go on down the line… asking… asking… asking… trying to appear less desperate than he felt… eventually some charitable wee damsel would consent to risk life and limb to clamber onto the dance floor… the lesson never left me… if yeez don’t ask, yeez don’t get… relevance of all this, Mabel?… fast forward to the present… the Great God Amazon Kindle has recently loosened the strictures on downloading in AUSTRALIAKindle is now live in OZ… another WUNNERFUL new market opens up for the self-publishing eBook brigade… which includes yours truly… time to practice what I’ve been preaching for the past couple of years… BUILDING THE PLATFORM… developing a base of like-minded souls to share with in situ from Brisbane to Perth, Melbourne to Darwin, don’t omit Tasmania… I’m searching for AUSTRALIAN-BASED READERS AND BOOK BLOGGERS willing to carry stuff on this ol’ Jurassic and his books… Guest Posts, Q and A pieces, yeez know the drill… any takers, please? I can be reached on seumasgallacher@yahoo.com  LUV YEEZ … see yeez later…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

seumas picSeumas Gallacher was born in the cradle of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow in the so-called ‘bad old days’, which were really the greatest of days, where everybody was a true character of note.

An early career as a trainee banker led to a spell in London, where his pretence to be a missionary converting the English fell on deaf ears.

Escape to the Far East in 1980 opened up access to cultures and societies on a global scale, eventually bringing the realisation that the world is simply one large, extended village.

The lifelong desire to write resulted in THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, the first in a planned series. Seumas’ sequel novel, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK was launched in early July 2012. The third, SAVAGE PAYBACK, was released in late 2013 with at least two other books to follow in the same vein. Ebook downloads on his novels exceed 70,000 to date.

Seumas lives in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Stingy Bastards—An Author’s Gripe

Hello Everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (lazy me) but today I’ve been incited into doing one by an ungenerous, some would say stingy, reader.

I’m not sure if it’s the same for all authors, but when I log into KDP (Amazon) to check my sales figures (every day, more than once, and no, that doesn’t make me weird) I’m always a happy squirrel when I see the number increase, even if it is only by one. Each sale is another time my book is going to be read, and I find it most exciting (if you gauge from that, that I live a generally boring life, you’re probably right ;)).

Well, today I logged on as soon as I woke up (stop laughing). I was sooooo happy to see that I had sold 1 copy of my book of short stories, Dark Spaces. This was the only copy of that particular book that I’ve sold all month, so it was extra exciting. Imagine my horror when, this afternoon, I logged in again and it had been returned. What the hell? Who would do this? It’s only $2.99 for goodness sake, and not only that, it has only 4 and 5 star reviews and has been edited and proofread so it’s a good product (there’s no accounting for dodgy taste but that’s another topic…). The book is only 10,000 words so is a quick read and therefore, a target for the Amazon returns policy which states that a customer can return an e-book within 7 days of purchase.

My summation is (and I could be wrong, but I doubt it) that the person read it and returned it for no other reason than wanting their $2.99 back. They can’t have returned it for lack of quality, and since you can read a sample, they knew what they were getting. Do they think I sit on my pile of gold and jewels cackling crazy laughter all day as I rub my hands together and stare at my KDP figures to see that I’ve sold 50,000 copies today? No wonder we writers can safely wear the tag “Starving writer”.

I can understand if someone accidentally clicked on ‘buy me’ or it was a present they didn’t want, but for all of you who can afford to buy e-books and return them because you’re a stingy bastard (I can hear the dismay at my strong language from here, but I think it’s time I said what I, and many other authors, think) you are not nice and are taking money, albeit a small amount of money, from a person that has worked hard to produce something that would take you more than ten minutes to read, when you will probably go out and buy a coffee that costs more and takes five minutes to drink.

I work a day job to pay my bills, and writing is a passion that must be part time. Don’t assume the authors you are buying from are any richer than you, because we are probably not. Any joy I felt at seeing that sale this morning has quickly evaporated. I’d like to ask all those stingy bastards out there to please reconsider before fleecing an author—how would you like to go to work and when it’s time to be paid, the boss waves the money in front of your face then puts it back in his pocket?

For the record, there are many, many readers who don’t return books and I salute you and thank you for your support. You good guys rock!

Ok rant over. Normal services will resume with next blog post :).

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!

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…

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for K.A. Last’s New Book—Sacrifice

Hi Everyone. When I was speaking at the NSW Writers Centre writers festival, I met a lovely person—K.A. Last. She is an author living in the same city as me and we had lots in common. I’ve read her first book, which is a paranormal romance called Fall for Me, and enjoyed it. I’m pleased to be able to feature the cover reveal for her upcoming novella on my blog today. If you like paranormal romance, you should check it out.

Sacrifice
Sacrifice

Seth’s heart is breaking. He knows his decision will hurt the one person he keeps breathing for, but he can’t take it anymore. He can’t be near Grace knowing she will always be just out of reach.

Grace is oblivious to Seth’s turmoil. She loves him unconditionally, but not in the way he wants. They both know that in Heaven physical love is forbidden, and to break the rules is to defy everything they’ve ever been taught.

When Grace and Seth are sent on a mission to save a young mother and her unborn child, Grace must face the fact that Seth won’t be returning home. She doesn’t understand Seth’s decision and hates him for it. But what neither of them realise is how big a part that single decision will play in shaping their entire future.

What would you sacrifice for the one you love?

KALast_HeadshotFINAL_LRK. A. Last was born in Subiaco, Western Australia, and moved to Sydney with her parents and older brother when she was eight. Artistic and creative by nature, she studied Graphic Design and graduated with an Advanced Diploma. After marrying her high school sweetheart, she concentrated on her career before settling into family life. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she began writing to let off creative steam, and fell in love with it. She now resides in a peaceful leafy suburb north of Sydney with her husband, their two children and a rabbit named Twitch.

 

Charity Parkerson’s A Secure Heart on sale 22 Jan—5th Feb

At the beginning of January, 2013, I edited an action-packed romance for Charity Parkerson, and now it’s on sale. If you enjoy romance with a touch of erotica, good characters and speedy plot, then you should try this and it’s only $1.99 from now until the 5th of Feb (yes I know I’m biased because I edited it, but you know I wouldn’t lead you astray).

A Secure Heart new cover

Here’s the blurb:

What does it take to secure a heart? For the Smith Security Services team it’s Flowers, Chocolate, Wishes, and Sparks!
Flowers: Fashion Designer Flower Calloway’s next big show could make her famous all over the world, but she ends up uncovering a few secrets that could break her heart instead.
Chocolate: A quick trip to the store for some chocolate therapy, and a fateful encounter with a few gorgeous men, shakes up F.B.I. Agent Genie Cook’s once secure life.
Wishes: For Jacob and Gracie, it is love at first sight, but it will take more than a few wishes to hold them together when Jacob’s career threatens to tear them apart.
Sparks: Twin brothers Weave and Bob are hardened fighters, but two special women are going to have them throwing off sparks instead of punches.
Grab a copy from these online outlets:

 

What’s Worked in my Self-Publishing Journey so Far

Hello again. Today I was bragging about the fact that Shadows of the Realm (SOTR) was still in the top 100 for teenage literature fiction books on Amazon after two weeks up there. Even though it’s liable to drop out at any moment, today was good because I was sitting ahead of one of the Twilight books and one of the Gossip Girl books—it just proves dragons still have some clout. After I tweeted it out, I had a comment from another indie author who wanted to know how I had made it this far. I’ve been meaning to write about my experience for a while, and that was a good reminder. So here’s some of what I’ve learned. I hope it helps someone, somewhere, especially when you feel like giving up—believe me, you’re not the first and won’t be the last.

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 3.06.53 PMSelf-publishing is a tough business—you have to be self-motivated, persistent and thick-skinned, as well as media savvy, hard-working and willing to learn. I still have days (and I’m sure there are more to come) when I seriously question the sanity of what I’m doing. Publishing is one of the most competitive fields to be in and I don’t think anyone has worked out what makes one book a best-seller over another. And I won’t lie: seeing books you perceive to be not as polished as your own, selling much better than yours, is disheartening. But don’t get me wrong—I don’t begrudge others’ success, but wonder “how come I’m not successful too.” Other thoughts you’re liable to have are: “Why bother, no one is ever going to buy my book,” or “Out of all the books out there, why would someone choose mine?” The secret is: you are never going to be able to answer those questions, so don’t even try. Your biggest weapons are persistence and hard work. And as an indie author you are also battling the perception that indie authors are unprofessional. This perception exists because unfortunately many are :(.

I started my self-publishing journey in October 2011 when I arrived on Twitter knowing absolutely zilch about marketing and social media. I always thought Twitter was for those wanting to follow the latest reality celebrity moron (OK don’t hit me; they’re not all morons) and to be honest, I really don’t give a crap about what famous people I will never meet are doing. After working out how to tweet and follow people, I was off and running (I’m technically challenged so if I can do it, anyone can). And boy was I surprised.

I only followed writers, and what an amazing and wonderful bunch of people I met. This was my first smart (and lucky) decision. The good friends you make on Twitter are the ones who will encourage you when you’re having those I feel like giving up days. They are the ones who will help you when you are wondering about how to upload your book to Amazon and Smashwords, and they are the ones who will put up their hands when you need someone to beta read your book or tweet your book sale (I just want to take a moment to thank all those who help me every day; without you I would not have done as well as I have, and when I’m not doing well you make me laugh).

Facebook and Google plus are also great ways to connect with writers. There are loads of writers’ groups you can join that will answer your questions, and I find writers are generally a fun lot of people to interact with (it’s true—we are all crazy).

So after being on Twitter for a couple of months, one of the amazing Tweeps I met (Peter Hobbs) asked if I had a blog. Of course I didn’t have a blog. “WTH is a blog?” I asked, and when I found out I thought, “Well who in the hell wants to read what I have to say?” Luckily for me, it turns out some people (I haven’t confirmed numbers but I’m pretty sure it’s more than one) actually find me amusing and/or informative. Other people’s blogs are also a source of valuable information about writing and self-publishing. Go visit them because what you learn will help (it helped me).

I hope you’re taking notes. Get on social media and do a blog—it not only gives you a support network, but this is where you build respect for your work and your brand (in other words,  you). The next thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is learn your craft. Not everyone can afford to study full-time but in case you haven’t already figured it out, it’s rare for anyone to be born with the ability of a literary genius. I found that out after the first draft of my book was rejected by publishers all over the world (how embarrassing; I can picture them laughing while reading the first paragraph). And here I was thinking I was going to sell millions without even trying. Thank God I realised I had a lot to learn and I enrolled in a creative writing degree. You can, at the very least, join a critique group or find a cheap, basic online course to do. Having said that, there are unedited, poorly written, self-published books that sell well, but for the sake of your own pride, and the reputation of indie authors, please aim to write well.

Hmm, I’m waffling a bit so I’ll hurry up. I improved my writing, employed an editor and went through my book three more times (that made it a total of eight) to proofread and make sure I had banished as many redundant words and passive language as I could. I paid a professional artist to do the cover, and I still get comments from people who love it.

Because I did all this, when I paid for a mail-out to announce my recent book sale to fantasy readers, it resulted in me selling four times as many books in two weeks as I had in the first eight months of my book’s public life. When the readers saw the cover and blurb it was enticing, then when they clicked on the link to Amazon there were a lot of good reviews for them to read, plus the book reads well in the sample because I went about it in a professional way (I am by no means suggesting it is the best writing you will ever read, but it doesn’t have typos or grammar and punctuation errors in every sentence). My support network also helped by announcing the sale on their blogs and tweeting and facebooking it.

The sales of my book to date and the Amazon rankings I’ve achieved in the last two weeks might be the best I ever do, but they wouldn’t have happened without hours each day promoting myself and helping others by giving feedback on their work or just encouraging them when they feel like giving up. When you go three weeks without one sale it can have you ready to pull your book off the internet and going to get a job where you ask “Would you like fries with that?”, but don’t. If, like me, you love writing, you will never be able to give it up. Just surround yourself with good people who understand what you’re going through and be patient and persistent. If it was easy, everyone would be a best-seller, right ;).

And take heart—apparently it takes between two and three years to build your platform to the point where you achieve consistent sales, and the more books you have out the better. It’s a steep learning curve being an indie author, but when you do have some success, it’s satisfying because you did it through your own hard work and because of the support from your friends. I can honestly say I’ve learnt more in the last two years than I ever have, and I’ve met incredible people I admire. I still have a way to go but I’m more determined than ever. I hope this post has given someone some kind of information they can use, if not, it was good writing practice for me ;). And feel free to contact me if you have any questions (I don’t know everything, but I’ll answer what I can and point you towards others more knowledgable than myself if I can’t). Happy writing!