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 :).

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 10.54.57 AM

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!

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…

 

 

 

 

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

A Time of Darkness is Here! Awesome Epic Fantasy

A Time of Darkness Cover
A Time of Darkness Cover

I almost feel like I’m spamming everyone; my cover was ready so I did the cover reveal, and I was going to wait to upload to Amazon, but I couldn’t! So now, the next book in  The Circle of Talia series is out there. You can find it on Amazon or Smashwords and soon iTunes, Kobo and Barnes & Noble. The sequel to Shadows of the Realm continues the story of realmists, Bronwyn and Blayke and their creaturas, Sinjenasta and Fang. It’s fast-paced, scary and has awesome dragons (although those who have read Shadows of the Realm would know that).

I hope a lot of readers are waiting for this book and will now run out and buy it—I promise you won’t be disappointed. Here is an excerpt where we join the evil gormons in the Third Realm, a place they hate. They look forward to the day when they swarm Talia and begin their eating frenzy:

“Klazich absently picked at his teeth with a sharpened ulna—courtesy of his last meal. He looked across the table at his brother. Squinting and blinking did nothing to improve the hazy view. The Third Realm wavered and shaded reality like a suffocating nightmare—nothing appeared clear. Feldich’s outline was revealed to him, and he could almost look into his eyes. He curled his clawed hand into a fist, resisting the urge to slam the table.

Feldich sipped from the glass of bevanda, his favorite mix of blood and acidic lake water, and burped. Many gormons had died trying to adjust to the acidic water when they were first banished to this dim, nowhere realm. “Ha, Brother. I might have just hit upon the only thing I’ll miss from this stinking realm. I suppose we might be able to acidize Talia’s water once we’re there. What do you think?”

“Whatever you want.” His raspy voice suited the gloom. “Right now, I couldn’t care less. If we don’t get out of here by the full moon, we’ll never get out. I don’t fancy dying on this shitty, gods-forsaken excuse for a realm.” Klazich placed the bone in his mouth and crunched down, snapping it in half.

“How long have we got?”

“The next-best window through the corridor is Talia’s next full moon. Embrax calculated that’s in sixteen First Realm days. He’ll watch the moon’s symbol as it grows brighter.”

“Only one corridor will be open?”

“Yes. I know it’s not ideal. We’ll all end up where High Priest Kerchex is. It will take longer to spread out and crush those usurping parasites. But we will do it. I won’t rest until every filthy human and dragon is dead.” Placing the rest of the bone in his mouth, he chewed, grinding the fragments into splinters. He hated the humans. He hated the dragons. Talia had once belonged to the gormons, and it would again.”

Grab A Time of Darkness and find out what happens next.

NetGalley Reviewers Check out Shadows of the Realm

Are you a reviewer who uses NetGalley? If you are, Shadows of the Realm, the first book in my YA epic fantasy is on there for a month. It has dragons, a panther, action, and evil gormons. If you’re looking for another world to escape into then this is the book for you. It’s even been number #1 in two categories on Amazon. So, what else can I say? Not much. Wow this is a really short blog post. Hmm, okay, I’m off to get a coffee. Bye 🙂

I Finished Book Two, A Time of Darkness—Yay Me!

He, he, I’m celebrating! I finished my second book, A Time of Darkness, and it is with the editor being beautified. You would think I would be out enjoying myself, but no, I am home with a glass of Baileys and a blog post. I was meant to do grocery shopping later but now I can’t because of the Baileys—I’m an irresponsible writer but a responsible driver—it’s okay to blog when you’ve been drinking; in fact, it’s encouraged.

I’ve enjoyed writing this second book in The Circle of Talia series, although it took longer than I’d hoped (excuses are as follows: work, uni, kids, sun baking, tweeting) and one of my beloved characters had to die :(. Anyway, I finally made it and was nice enough to end on another cliff-hanger—don’t you just love me *batts eyelashes*.

I’m soooooo happy! It feels even better than the first time because I know it wasn’t a fluke. It has certainly helped that some wonderful people out there are actually waiting for it and have kept me going with constant encouragement. So now I’m waiting for the cover, and I’ll have to get stuck into the edits my wonderful editor, Chryse Wymer, did (she’s very good, but shhh don’t tell anyone or they’ll use her to edit their books instead of me).

My cover reveal will be on the 8th (so my cover-boy-extraordinaire, Robert Baird, tells me), and the book will be available by the 15th April. I can’t believe I made it. Woohoo!!! Yay me!! “Waiter, another Baileys.” Oops, that was my husband walking past. Looks like I’ll have to pour it myself. Bye :).

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!