For this week’s blog we are lucky enough to have been in touch with the multi-talented Lexi Revellian. Her books are both residing in my Kindle and having read and enjoyed both I can heartily recommend them. They are not easy to categorise but appeal to most, with their mixture of humour, action, believeable characters and (in Remix) some really kick-ass rocking horses!! If you’ve read them, you’re probably already looking forward to the rest of this post; if you haven’t read them, you should – you’re in for a treat.
On which note, I shall leave you with the details of Lexi’s books, and hand you over to her for the rest of the post.
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Genre & format: Mystery/Romance e-book and paperback
One-sentence blurb: A chance encounter with an attractive stranger, and Caz Tallis is drawn into a search for the truth about a rock star’s murder from three years ago…
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Genre & format: Thriller/Romance in e-book (paperback coming soon)
One-sentence blurb: Beth Chandler is replicated in a flawed experiment; Beth Two tries to survive on the run, while the original Beth, unaware of what has happened, becomes involved with the spec op hunting her replica.
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One-sentence biog: Lexi is a jeweller/silversmith in London, and has written four books, two of them available to buy.
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January 2010 my bike slipped on an icy speed cushion, and I hit the kerb and broke my shoulder. That accident changed my life for a while. Unable to cycle or drive, I walked between home and work, brooding. It was bitterly cold, and I wondered what it would be like to walk those dark and icy streets with nowhere to go, particularly if people were chasing you for some reason; how someone would react to suddenly losing her place in the world, how she would survive. I’d often thought, as a single mother running a small business, it would be handy if there were two of me. These ideas merged, and I started notes for Replica; biographies for the characters, snippets of dialogue, scenes, ideas, and photographs of locations. I researched the Royal Marines – later cut from the book – and the Security Service, also known as MI5, on the internet. The internet is a godsend to writers. I’m particularly fond of Google Street View, a way of visiting places without leaving my desk. (On the subject of research, I’m lucky that my daughter is a Jitsu blue belt and can help me with fights, and one of my friends is a doctor.) It’s interesting to look over these notes now, and see how much I didn’t use.
Once I knew the start and the finish and some of the characters, I started writing. Replica’s plot is one that could go many ways. The main male character, Nick Cavanagh, wasn’t in my original plans. The man Beth falls for was to have been much nicer, a disabled Marine, one of the Fubars seconded to the government research institute where she works. But he got elbowed aside by Nick (typical of him, I may say) who began by needling his boss in a briefing, and then got more and more important in the story until he became a main POV character. I also changed the end; I realized the ending I’d been heading towards was too obvious and anticlimactic.
The toughest thing about writing Replica was caused by my decision to write alternating chapters from the point of view of replica Beth in first person, while the other chapters are in third and varying POVs. I did this so the reader would never be in any doubt which Beth he/she was reading about, and it works, but every time I got on a roll I’d have to switch POVs with a crash of gears. It wasn’t an option to write all Beth Two’s chapters in one go, either, because I didn’t know what was going to happen.
My method is to think hard about a scene or chapter (the bath, driving or walking is good for this) then write it. If I get stuck, with no idea what to put next, I find bullet points have a miraculous ability to order my thoughts. I list what could happen, what I want to happen, what frame of mind the characters are in and what they want at this point. I like bullet points.
Replica’s setting is London. I prefer to use real places, so if anyone wants to do a Beth tour of central London, it’s possible. The derelict flat she lives in is real; I trespassed there while walking to work. Slightly unnerving, as it was vandalized and inhabited by a couple of squatters. I heard a cat meowing through a locked door as Beth Two does. The flats have since been bought, finished and sold. In my mind’s eye, I have a very clear image even of places I’ve made up.
I think we are incredibly lucky that, just as mainstream publishing closes its doors to almost all new writers, we have this incredible opportunity with e-publishing on Amazon for the Kindle. Anyone can offer a book for sale, and discover whether people want to read it. There are no setting up charges. I don’t think it’s a problem that some badly-written books are being published this way, as they will sink out of sight. It’s more of a problem to get readers to notice a good book…
I’ve done all the usual things to promote my books, given that I don’t have a great deal of time to spare. It’s not possible to say which work and which don’t – possibly it’s all cumulative. I have a blog and a website, I tweet and struggle to understand my Facebook page, and I go on sites like KindleBoards, Amazon forums and KUF where each of my books has been chosen as Book of the Month. Word of mouth is the best way to sell a book, no question. I use Google Alerts to try to keep track, but that doesn’t tell you everything. Publishing has so many ups and downs, it’s a mistake to take the whole thing too seriously. If in doubt, write another book.
For both my books, I’ve done everything; editing, proofreading, formatting and designing the covers for e-books and paperback (I’m working on Replica’s paperback now). Most of this I’ve enjoyed, though it’s been a steep learning curve. My covers are getting better as I get to grips with Adobe Photoshop 7.0 – its potential is vast, its instructions incomprehensible, and I love it when it’s not driving me nuts. I’m really quite hot at lettering these days.
I’m fortunate in that I have a background in design, and all jewellers are nitpicky and precise by nature and training. I love being in control of artwork, blurb and pricing, and having access to all the detailed sales information Amazon provides. I would strongly recommend going it alone rather than publishing with a small e-publisher. A small e-publisher may seem the easy option, but you lose the main advantages of self-publishing without reaping any reward in the form of publicity. There is plenty of help and advice on the internet from people who have successfully self-published, and most indies are happy to share.
Since August 2010 I’ve sold 27,000 e-books, something I’d have found unbelievable a year ago. You need luck in any form of publishing, and I’ve been lucky. It’s fantastic to think of so many people buying, reading, and enjoying stories I’ve written. That thought always brings a smile to my face.
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So there you have it, people! Thanks to Lexi for her blogpost and thoughts on publishing – and what about the rest of you. Do you agree or disagree? Are you a firm believer in small presses for epublishing or do you have other experiences to share with us? Please comment below and let us know if you do. If you want to know more about Lexi, her books, her silvercraft (is that a word?) and see the fabulous pictures of her work, do check out her website.
Lastly, if you’re about before 10th June, check the previous post on this blog for a massive multi-book giveaway on Misty’s blog Unwritten; and with that I’ll leave you. Next week’s post is still tbc but rumour has it that author Lisa Hinsley might have something interesting to put our way, so watch this space!
In the interim, have a great weekend – and see you same time next week…