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 :).

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!

 

 

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour Thingy Majiggy

I’ve been tagged for a bit of a blog hop thingy by good writer friend Tima Lacoba. I’m required to answer the following questions and I promise to do so to the best of my ability (so don’t expect too much). I currently have a fantasy novel out (in case the dragon on my website was not a dead giveaway), a book of suspenseful, and somewhat dark, short stories, Dark Spaces, and I’ve just released a little short story, all on it’s own, called Divine Intervention. The one I’ll be referring to today is Shadows of the Realm—my first, and most loved, baby.

  • What is the title of your latest book? Shadows of the Realm.
  • Where did the idea come from for the book? Not sure. Just wanted to write a fantasy book and that’s the one that was there.
  • What genre does your book fall under? Young adult, epic fantasy, with dragons. I don’t think ‘with dragons’ is a genre, but, if erotica can have tentacle sex as a sub-genre, I can have dragons.
  • What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Oh goodness, gracious, mwah (I just wanted an excuse to blow you all a kiss), OK it’s moi. Hmm, this is a tough one because I don’t watch a lot of movies so I’m not totally up with who is around. I’ll leave it to the casting agent.
  • What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? With their world under threat of invasion, Bronwyn and Blayke, two young realmists, are forced to leave all they’ve known to undertake a dangerous journey to discover the magic of the realms before all they love is destroyed.
  • Is your book self-published or represented by an agency? Bwahahaha. Oh, excuse me *straightens shirt and smooths hair.*  I’m self published.
  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I can’t remember specifics, as it was eight years ago, but I’m thinking it was two or three months.
  • What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Anything by David Eddings with a hint of Stephen King at times. (Note here that I’m not saying it’s as good as theirs, but they have been my influences and I can only aspire to their great skill. Just wanted to make that clear so there’s no massive expectations when you buy my book. Although, you can have some expectations, just don’t go overboard—it wouldn’t be good for either of us).
  • Who or what inspired you to write this book? I inspired myself (I’m very inspirational you know). I’d always wanted to write a book—I don’t know why—and so I did.
  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Hmm, the characters are varied and well drawn (I have it on good authority), there’s dragons, a splatter of horror, much adventuring and visiting different realms and of course, my unique brand of humour, which probably isn’t that unique and I’m sure not everyone finds it funny. All I can say is that I enjoyed writing it and reading it the two hundred times I went through it in editing, so I’m sure you can brave it just once, please? (This isn’t begging, I’m just being polite).

Not sure if I’m supposed to tag anyone or if it’s supposed to die a natural death. I’ll keep it going for one more time and tag my podcast partners in crime, Amber Jerome~Norrgard. Take it away Amber :).

Oh and I wouldn’t be doing this properly if I didn’t have a call to action at the end. Go and buy the book, now, quick, before … before … well, before you forget.

Flash Fiction – The Leaf

So, folks, here’s another piece of me. That’s how I feel lately, writing. Teeny, tiny pieces of me jumbled together on the page, or screen as the case may be, little black marks that signify stuff from my brain (in case you’re wondering, I don’t think that’s the technical explanation for what writing is, but anyway…).

The Leaf

She is empty. Her hand lays open on her lap and her eyes follow the creases and lines embedded therein: paths to nowhere. No, wait, they do lead somewhere. Closing her eyes, she follows the lines down to where it’s so dark she can’t see, but she can feel; the emptiness. She calls out and her voice echoes, like she is in an empty metal drum. Her own laughter taunts her: there is no one else to comment. It is lonely here. Does she long for the feel of his skin? Yes. Does she need their approval? Yes. Knowing them, him, anyone and everyone, she settles to the floor—blacker than black—like a leaf, a skeleton of a leaf, to wait. There is no breeze in this place and her threadbare form will never be borne up again. She hasn’t the strength to do it herself. Again, she will wait, until the waiting is over.

 

If you like this piece, it is highly likely you’ll enjoy my book of short stories, Dark Spaces. Visit Amazon or Smashwords and grab the e-book, it’s only $2.99. What a bargain ;).

Flash Fiction Autobiographical Piece (no I’m not flashing)

Uni is upon me again and I must write weekly snippets to post on the board. This week we have been asked to tell our ‘life story’ in 250 words. Mine has gone off the rails a tad. I know I understand what I mean but maybe other people won’t. I’ve posted it anyway because I love to share. Here’s hoping someone else enjoys my autobiographical flash fiction.

 

What is relevant in the story of my life? Is it that I was born in Sydney to immigrant parents, or is it that I’m married with two young children? Many of the events that shaped me are hazy memories, some even appear as dreams: me as a five year old, lying in a white room on a cold, stainless steel table, staring at bright lights while a white-coated person stands over me. As a teenager, when I told my mother about this memory-come-dream, she advised that when I’d had meningitis, they extracted spinal fluid from me with a more-than-impressive needle, without anesthetic. She, sitting frantic in an adjoining room, could hear my screams: screams she would never forget. My life shaping experience had become hers.

What is the story of someone’s life? As I stand before you as an author, mother, sister, sports-lover and wife, does my backstory matter? My experiences are gone as soon as they occur, and I am this moment in time. The retelling is a reshaping, not a reliving—we can never go back. The relevant story of my life, to me, is what is to come. Since I am not who I was when I was born, my life unfolds moment to moment: the story ever beginning and ending, each moment becomes my story until it has passed—then it belongs to another.

Amber gets Clicky with Dionne & Michelle’s Blobs

Our uber awesome guest today was author, Michelle Franco. She has been a long-time Twitter friend of Amber & I and has appeared on Tweep Nation once before. Michelle writes zombie stories and has two books out, her latest is Where Will You Hide. She was very patient while Amber clicked her mouse like there was no tomorrow: I, on the other hand, was ready to send Amber to podcast heaven. She really knows how to push my buttons. Gee, how did I manage to write so many cliches into one blog post? It’s skill I suppose. Join the Tweep Nation podcast for hysterics, hysterectomies and histrionics and occasionally you may hear something intelligent between the swear words.