Author Kelly Stone Gamble Has a Question for You

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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:

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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…