Category: Guest Blogs


Morning peeps!

And here we are with barely ten days to Christmas, with a very seasonal post for you!

For the English, Christmas means Pantomime season, and panto is so much a part of the national psyche that for me it was a real surprise to find out that they don’t do pantomime all over the world, but apparently so.

For those of you who have never experienced the madness of panto, you are about to meet one of the great phenomena of Englishness… If you haven’t a clue what we’re on about, shout and we’ll explain what pantomime is and what the conventions are!

So without further ado (and not too much heckling from the back), let me  hand over to Lexi who will introduce the main character’s for tonight’s entertainment….

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PANTOMINE SEASON IN PUBLISHING

It’s the pantomime season – who were the heroes, villains and pantomime dames of the literary world in 2011? It’s a matter of opinion, so take your pick from the following suggestions.

  •  Look out, he’s BEHIND you! Amazon is the big bad villain, twirling his moustache and swirling his cape. Counts against him this year: stealing the livelihood of bookshops (many of them small, local and independent), seducing innocent young indies with the evil KDP Select scheme, banning innocuous authors from their forums, and generally attempting world dominance in a manner worthy of a Bond villain. Publishers had never noticed indies were making them money, until nasty Amazon wanted to keep them all to itself. Boo! In November, famously nice Michael Palin criticized Amazon – nuff said.
  •  And swarming behind Amazon, alarming many a blogger, are the Orc-like hordes of self-publishers, who have the temerity to seek readers – even though they have been told frequently by the gatekeepers to Go Away, their writing is Not Good Enough, and certainly can’t compete with the likes of Katie Price or Pippa Middleton. They are also known as the Tsunami of Crap, through which desperate readers will be forced to wade in search of a decent read.
  •  Cinderella: she is every indie author with a good book the traditional publishing industry won’t touch, drooping disconsolately and patronized by passing literary agents. She keeps writing because she has to. Wash off the cinders, and she does not look all that different from the lucky elite who do have invitations to the publishing ball.
  •  Fairy Godmother: the Kindle, without which Cinderella would not have been able to go to the ball. There are other, lesser fairies around, but their light is dimmed by Fairy Kindle. Watch out for Fairy Fire, surely coming soon to the UK, Fairy Nook, and Fairy Kobo, to be found in WH Smith’s.
  •  Prince Charming: Appearing now in Good Cop guise, it’s Amazon again, who scoops indie author Cinderella from her hopeless situation and enables her to sell her books, sometimes in rather large numbers. Sad to say, Prince Amazon is not in love with Cinders; his eye is fixed firmly on the bottom line. He believes she will contribute to his wealth and standing in the kingdom. She will stick with him as in spite of all his faults, he promises her a brighter future than…
  •  Buttons: Mark Coker, proprietor of Smashwords, helping Cinders with her chores, wanting to share his humble home with her, but ultimately not offering anything like as much as the Prince.
  •  Whoever that character was who offered Jack five beans in exchange for his cow: Penguin, with their scheme to take advantage of indie authors by volunteering to format and load their books to KDP for a mere $549 plus 30% of their profits in perpetuity. And Penguin’s beans won’t turn out to be magic, either.
  •  Pantomime dame: Katie Price, best selling novelist, an ornament to Random House’s author list.
  •  Pantomime horse: Authonomy, which some of us believed was a racehorse when it first appeared. We were wrong. Sorry, Scott Pack, but does anyone take it seriously any more? What, exactly, has it achieved in three years, except to waste a great deal of its members time?

Do you agree with my choices – have I missed anyone? Whom would you suggest?

Lexi

Replica UK    Replica US    Remix UK      Remix US

www.lexirevellian.com

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So, what do you think? Do you agree, disagree, or need explanation? Many thanks to Lexi for that, and do weigh in and let us know who your own candidates would be!

Any thoughts?

JAC

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Morning all! And have we got a treat for you!

Today’s guest post is courtesy of the lovely MT McGuire (and the Ely Marrow). Author of humorous fantasy Few Are Chosen (which I’ve read and did enjoy) she has come on the blog to show off her shiny new cover – look further down the page and admire the Dangermouse-ness thereof!

Writer, mother of a 2-yr-old, driver of a shiny Lotus and inventor of the flying snurd, she has shared with us the following wisdoms for your delectation…

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 Name: M T McGuire

 One-sentence biog: M T McGuire is 43 years old but still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia.

Blog  Facebook Twitter: @MTMcGuireAuthor

Author of: Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy 1

Genre/s: Humorous fantasy, if you have to pin me down but don’t ask me to tell you an age group or I may have to kill you. It’s aimed at a type of person and a mind set.

Available from:

E Book: Amazon UK:    Amazon US:   Smashwords:    Barnes & Noble:

Paperback:  Amazon UK   Amazon US   Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository or get a signed copy from www.hamgee.co.uk

One-sentence summary:
OK, I can’t do the book but I can do the trilogy, which goes like this: A cowards falls in love and thinking with his trousers sets out to win the girl, if he wants her he’ll have to save the world… but can he?

When you write, do you have a routine or habit?
No, I have an addiction. Writing, for me, is like a bad crack habit. If I don’t manage to write a certain amount each week I go a teeny bit mental. More than a teeny bit as McOther and McMini will probably attest.

What kicks off the book – a character, a situation, a plot-point?
Usually music. I will be listening to a song when I’ll see something in my head and think, ‘ooo that looks interesting’ and take it from there.

How much do you know in advance?
The beginning, a couple of emotional flashpoints or moments of extreme violence, a bit of conversation and the end.

Do you write character notes or background information?
Nah it’s bad enough having it all banging around in my head without trying to write it all down. If I had time to do more than the bare minimum pukkha writing I might.

Do you do research and how?
I try to establish parameters and rules which the plot, the science and the world I’ve created must stick to.

Do your characters do as you intend or do they tend to run away with the plot?
Oh they run away. Completely. The Pan of Hamgee, the male lead in the K’Barthan Trilogy was a bit character originally. Someone for another character to have an amusing conversation with in gaol. The minute I typed his name, he took over. I don’t think I’m the only writer this happens to.

Do you have clear visuals of places or characters?
Very but it’s not always easy to describe. The pictures on my website of my characters are exactly how they are in my head (only badly drawn).

When you have writer’s block, what do you do?
Draw the characters, market my previous book, or write something else, even if it’s just long tracts about how I can’t write.

Are you indie or trad-pubbed?
Indie.

What made you go that route and why?
To be trad pubbed it needs to be immediately obvious how my work could be marketed and what box it fits into. It’s clearly commercial but it doesn’t obviously fit in a box. Also I need to find an agent. I did try for a year after finishing Few Are Chosen during which time I managed to get polite ‘no’s’ from 5 of them. I do appreciate they’re busy and I can imagine the pressure they are under but I’m 43 now and I decided that I would quite like to see my work in print before I die. So I published it myself.

How long since you published your first book?
A year and a bit. K’Barthan 2 is due out next spring. Thank you everyone for waiting patiently. Writing and looking after a toddler does not make for a quick sequel.

Is there anything you wish you had known before you started?
The above. Oh and make your first book stand alone. Only start with a series if you are a complete nutter.

If you were starting from scratch today, is there anything you would do differently?
Pretty much everything although I’m happy enough with the way it’s turned out.

What is the most important thing for you about having your book published?
That when I have bludgeoned people into it – usually at gunpoint – nearly everyone who has read it likes it. I find this slightly amazing and I am waiting until the moment when the bubble bursts and I get covered in soap!

What are your views on self-publishing?

I think it’s brilliant.

From where I sit, it looks as if the publishing industry has trouble investing in new talent. Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I worked in an industry which comprised many small companies, much the way publishing used to be. However, the many small companies were gradually bought up by five or six big ones, much the way publishing has been. Having experienced working in that model, I can imagine what goes on. In my field a product which was considered a money spinner for a small company suddenly became a loss maker when we were part of a group. As a big group, we had higher overheads and costs so our products had to make a consistent 30% of operating profit to break even. Some of our products made 5% or 10% and they were binned or the rights sold off. I can’t help wondering if this has happened in publishing. I’m guessing that if it is, it might explain why nothing seems to be countenanced in publishing unless it’s a sure fire monster bank.

On the upside. I guess that means something has to come out of the woodwork which can and will make those lower margin, niche-but-profitable books pay. Enter indie and self publishing. No-one in the industry is ever going to take a punt on my book but maybe, if I can build up a readership and a following, they will. And, if, after that, I am not the next J K Rowling, at least my books will be out there. Money is lovely (mwah ha ha haargh) but this is, essentially, about reaching people who will enjoy my books. If they do I don’t mind if there aren’t that many of them.

What are your views on e-books?
I think they’re excellent. They have no shelf life and they allow people like me, who have written a slightly weird book, to reach people who might enjoy reading it directly. And those people are there, just not in big enough quantities to appeal to a publisher.

Also let me just say how much I love e-ink. Please god let them make it in colour, so it’s like a computer screen only not. It’s saving me a fortune in paper and electricity charging stupid batteries because unlike reading on screen, it gives me that sense of removal required for editing.

E ink. Colour. Soon. With touch screen. Go on lovely techies. Kissy kissy. Please…

Do you have/are you considering getting an e-reader? which?
Yes I do. I have a Kindle, because I’m a sheep.
No-no, I’m not a sheep, honest. Actually, I didn’t think I would possibly find a use for a kindle but McOther wanted to buy me something for my birthday and he offered.. Round about that time, it occurred to me that if I write e-books it might be smart if I had a vague idea how they looked on an e-reader.

Now I have it I am delighted with it. Not only do I read more but I have access to lots of books I have absolutely loved which I’d never have been able to read without it. Indeed, I read one book in 2010 (I’m a stay at home parent with a toddler so time and head space can be thin on the ground). I bought an e-book reader in June 2011 and I’ve read about 15 books since. Not much, I agree but a hell of a lot more than I was reading before.

Did you have your cover made/work edited/proofed by someone else?

Yes, yes and yes.
Seriously, get your work proof read by a professional and don’t get it done on paper because if you do you’ll put a whole new raft of mistakes in when you do the alts. Get it done by someone who will correct the document. Blindingly obvious that but publishing gold and yes, despite a 12 year career producing print, it’s a nugget I missed entirely.

If you know a decent designer, get them to do the cover and think hard about what you want first. It took me about a year to realise what I wanted. Once I did, I discussed it with the designer and get something that was close but would also work commercially. They did a fantastic job. A Trouble Halved in Stratford-upon-Avon if you are interested.

What do you do to market your book?
Not nearly enough! Mwah ha ha haargh. Actually, I think it’s a good idea to have something out there free, more than a sample, a story. In my case I have some very bad shorts which I don’t know what to do with and a prequel to the K’Barthan Trilogy called Unlucky Dip. Don’t be daunted by conversion rates though. I reckon freebies work like a mailshot so about one in every hundred will buy something. That said, there are lots and lots of freebie sites so, in theory, you can get that hundred readers several times over.

Are you on any social media? Which do you prefer?
I’m on Facebook  and Twitter ( @mtmcguireauthor ). I also visit forums; kindleboards, mobilereads, amazon.co.uk, goodreads and the like.

What has proved your most successful marketing method so far?
Interviews, reviews and posts like this.

Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors?
Mmm hmm.

Who? JA Clement, naturally, (JAC: clearly a woman of taste!) Danny Gillan, Lexi Revellian, Ali Cooper, Melanie Dark, Joyce De Bacco and I have a whole truck load in my to be read folder which I haven’t yet done.

Have you any tips for other authors?
If you’re self publishing, think about the basic stuff. Trust me, in my real world job I produced reams of print in a year and I assumed I would not be at home to Mr Cock-up. Unfortunately, when I produced my book, Mr Cock-up, his family and most of his relations took over my guest room for some weeks. There is a lot of really, really obvious stuff that I missed. Here’s a purler; when Few Are Chosen came out I didn’t actually say anywhere on the cover that it was part one of a trilogy. How stupid was that? Naturally, a few people complained about the end being a bit abrupt.

(JAC: Yes, well easy mistake to make, sure lots of people have done that. Er…well at least one person in the vicinity has done that!)

Are there any resources you have found really useful?
Yeh, Simon Royle’s indieview site.

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So there you have it, peeps!

MTM’s book is worth the reading, and you should all go have a look at it – and of course there is the short story Unlucky Dip if you just want to start with a small snippet.

So, in the run-up to Christmas what else can we expect? Next week we have a guest blog from Lexi Revellian, author of Remix, Replica and a new fantasy series starting with Torbrek and the Dragon Variation.

In Christmas week I’ll be writing my own Christmas post – and if you have any requests for that, leave a comment or message me on Goodreads!

And in January I will be bringing you assorted posts from other authors along with (I hope) a new release or so of my own.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to the mailing list (if you’re looking at this on https://jaclement.wordpress.com you’ll see the nice shiny “Get the gossip” button over to the right) then please do so, as apart from anything else I’ll be mailing out a discount code for Book 2 to anyone on the mailing list – and there may be advance review copies going, you never know….

In the interim though, have a good weekend, and if you have any questions for MTM or myself, please comment below!

See you next week:

JAC

Morning, peeps and welcome to the weekend!

First things first; as you all know, we were hoping to have ODS2 out over Christmas. This is now looking more like New Year as my super editors are getting a bit booked up and won’t be able to scalpel it until between Christmas and New Year. This in turn means the ebook will be out in January, but it is now looking as if the paperback could be as late as summer.

Apols to those of you who are not yet possessed of an e-reader, but you are going to have to wait a bit more – and I know you’d rather we took the time and gave you something perfect than rushed through it and made a shoddy book. (Besides you know how anal I am, I CAN’T do that!!)

In the meantime though, Christmas Lites is available on Amazon.com, Createspace and Smashwords and will hopefully make it across to Amazon.co.uk at some point. I just got and read my copy and the stories are fantastic!! There’s a LOT of talent gone into that book….

However, that’s by the by. Moving on to the main blog of the day, this week we have an interview with another member of the Creative Reviews group, Shane Porteous. Shane has a new release out and asked if the readers might be interested in reading about it, and as I know there are a few werewolf fans amongst you, here for your delectation, are some details about Shane and his new book.

Name: Shane Porteous

Author of: How Gods Bleed, Grave Caller, Rasciss

Cover of "How Gods Bleed" by Shane Porteous

  Genre/s: Dark Fantasy

  P- or e-book: both

  Available from: Smashwords

  One-sentence summary: How Gods Bleed is a werewolf and warrior horror/fantasy story

  One-sentence biog: I am a huge Manga and  Anime fan that also likes documentaries and professional wrestling.

 Links:
 Email; authorofrasciss@yahoo.com.au
    Facebook   YouTube

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When you write do you have a routine or habit?

I make sure that I write every single day, usually a two-page minimum. I allow myself to write more than that if the muse is calling, but the rule is more for those days when you really don’t feel like writing. It just makes sure that your novel gets written. As for a routine, no; sometimes I will write first thing, other days in the afternoon and occasionally late at night. Doing it that way prevents it from feeling like a regular job.

What kicks off the book- a character, a situation, a plot-point?

All of the above, it often depends on what book I want to write. Sometimes it is all about the story and what kinds of characters are needed to tell that story, but other times it is about a character. When I was a young teenager and was coming up with characters left and right I decided to put them into a loose mythology so I would have them all on paper. Every now and again I will skim through this mythology and become reacquainted with a character I invented years ago. Sometimes I will say to myself “This character deserves his or her own novel,” so I build a story around that character.

What made you want to write this story?

I don’t think want is the right word, more like I had to write it in order to move on creatively. I already had plenty of stories that I had tried to write for years, but no matter which of these stories I tried my mind kept pulling me back to How Gods Bleed. So finally I gave in and began writing it.

What was the most difficult about it?

The fact that there were just so many ideas. It was really difficult to make any sense of it – there were probably two dozen major changes to the plot! When I finally decided on one of them I soon realized that it would not work and was forced to go back to the drawing board, so to speak. Eventually though the final plot shone through.

Do you have a favorite character?

Interestingly when I was shaping How Gods Bleed in my mind there were a handful of characters that at one time or another were going to be either the main character or the main antagonist. The character of Gokkus for example was going to be the story’s main antagonist; I changed his character ever so slightly and now he is one of the supporting protagonists. He changed from this very tragic and troubled soul to a very proud and honorable man. Aneeku was going to be the main character but when that particular plot fell through I wasn’t going to put him in the book. However I liked his character design so much, that I changed his background and put him in the story as a supporting antagonist. When I thought about how to change him from a good man to an evil one I looked over his history and shaped him how I thought the original Aneeku would change if certain things happened in his past.

Who are your favorite authors?

Actually I prefer individual stories more than the authors who wrote them, but Kentaro Miura and David Gemmell are two authors whose work I enjoy tremendously.

Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors? Who/what book?

Without a doubt that has to be Mathion: Book one of the Mavonduri Trilogy by Jeff Shanley, a sweeping epic that in many ways is a traditional fantasy story but never felt stale or predictable to me. It is the best ebook that I have ever read. It is the only novel that has directly inspired me to write a story and that is the greatest compliment one author can give another. If anyone doubts that an indie author can write a masterpiece Mathion is an ebook that will prove you wrong.

Also, though he isn’t an indie author I would just like to mention Gerald G. Griffin, author of Of Good and Evil which is the best paranormal thriller that I have ever read.

Have you any tips for other authors?

With all due respect, doesn’t be selfish, ignorant or arrogant and above all else listen/read what your potential customers are saying. If you’re going to join a sight like Goodreads or LibraryThing don’t quickly write half-assed reviews of super popular novels. These novels don’t need another review, it is boring to your potential readers. They do not need you to tell them that the sky is blue, everyone knows that Lord of The Rings is a masterpiece. Instead go onto sites like Smashwords, find unknown books by unknown authors, read and review them. Go into a bookstore and get yourself books from the discount bins. So when people come onto your profile they won’t quickly skim over it because you have done nothing more than review books everyone knows about. If you have reviewed unknown books, that gets people interested in reading your reviews, which will get them interested in you and the books you have written. It just makes you far more legit as a reader and therefore a writer.

Finally, is there anything that you would like to add?

When I finished writing How Gods Bleed I realized just how important it was to me to get feedback and opinions from readers, so I decided to make How Gods Bleed free to download. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for potential readers to get their hands on a copy.

So far I have gotten 5 star reviews on both Smashwords and Goodreads. They have been very humbling and overwhelmingly positive. To me getting feedback from readers is just as important and rewarding as royalties, because I value their opinion so much.

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So there you have it… Shane is giving away How Gods Bleed for free on Smashwords and would love you to read and review it, so all you werewolf fans, weigh in and let him know what you think!

Next week I hope to have another guest blog for you but as to who will be starring – well, you’ll have to come back and look, won’t you?!

Authors, have you noticed theKindle Store is now selling to Spain, Italy, France and Germany as well as UK and US? The first two are new… and gossip has it that Brazil is on the list for a few months time. It will be interesting to see, no?

In the meantime, I’m taking suggestions for  a New Year blog. (And it’s December – how did that happen?!)

So at New Year, what would you like to read there? Is there a specific indie author / editor / designer / person you’d like to interview? A specific subject you’d like me to write about?  Or would you simply prefer a short story, written specially for the occasion? Any thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know….

Anyway, that’s all from me – drop by next week to find out who’ll be doing our next blog!

Take care:

JAC

Morning all –

and look what we have here! How will you recover from the excitement of not ONE but TWO new releases in ten days?! So, hopefully you all read Cambria’s story and left a review, right? (She wants to know what you think, you know). Well, just as you’re starting to look around and wonder what literary wonders you should segue onto, here for your delectation is a guest-blog by none other than CS Splitter, author of the Crayder Chronicles.

As regulars will know, Splitter is one of the more fnar-prone members of Creative Reviews and is a contributor to (not to mention the main instigator of) the Christmas Lites Anthology due out next week, so do comment, heckle, or if you feel really inspired, Tweet the link to his new book, out 21st November! I can’t comment just yet as my copy is still on the Kindle which is locked firmly in a drawer till I’ve got ODS2 out for you, but the goss down in Creative Reviews is that the Crayder Chronicles rock…. and that’s just the more critical reviews!

I have been warned by two or three persons of good judgement that Tom Crayder as a character is going to infuriate me until I accidentally end up liking him! So I for one am really looking forward to having a read, and judging by the first chapter which I have seen, you should BY NO MEANS believe Splitter when he says he sucks. Methinks the writer doth protest too much….

So read his blog, admire the covers, Tweet the link and do go check out the samples on Amazon. I mean, you could always throw underwear but there’s a bit of a cross-wind at the moment so it’d probably hit Bill Oddie or someone. Me, I’d go for the Tweet but then perhaps Bill Oddie would appreciate the attention, who knows? I’ll leave it to your good selves….

And so without further ado, let me hand you over to the lovely C.S Splitter!

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splitter crayder chronicles

C S Splitter, author of The Crayder Chronicles

Name: C.S. Splitter

Author of: The Reluctant and The Willing

Genre/s: Action/Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Humor, Crime

P- or e-book: Both books are available as eBooks right now (The Willing to be released November 21st)  and will be available in print early in 2012.

Available from:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Reluctant-Crayder-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B004VS751O/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52864

Journal Stone:  http://journal-store.com/bookstore/the-reluctant/

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/c-s-splitter

ibooks:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-reluctant/id449636851?mt=11

and other internet resellers.  Books are also available through other internet retailers and on Amazon’s international sites (UK, Germany, etc..)

One-sentence summary:

The justice system failed but Tom Crayder will not.

One-sentence biog:

C.S. Splitter is a business man, author, and stand-up philosopher living in rural Maryland with his beautiful wife, small dog, and astonishingly large cat.

Your links:

Blog – http://splittersworld.blogspot.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002241805910

Twitter:  @SplitterCS


Book cover Reluctant Crayder Chronicles SplitterCS Splitter Crayder Chronicles 2 The Willing

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Indie Mistakes and Lessons

Since I will never be able to convince you, the reader, that I am an expert in the field of self publishing, let me take the easy route and convince you that I am stupid.  I see that look on your face – you are already believing me.  Good!  Here we go:

One of my earliest memories as a child was sitting on someone’s hip in the kitchen, either my grandmother or my mother (they were both there), and being told not to touch the hot stove.  I do not remember the pain, but I remember the angry red circles on my palm and the commotion that ensued among the adults.  They were right; the stove was hot.

Apparently, I need to figure out things for myself.  I am dense like that and have a whole file full of stories from my life to prove it.  You do not have to be so dense and you will not be if you read on.

In 2010, ideas for a character and then for a story hit me.  Hard.  I had to write it.

That lightning bolt from the heavens came a decade too late.  I had spent more than ten years trying to come up with an idea for a fantasy book, my favorite genre to read.  I would get an idea, begin to outline it or write it, and then realize that it had been done before and probably in a better way than I could ever hope to duplicate.  I gave up writing fiction.

It did not matter that, when I finally got a good and original idea, it was in a totally different genre without swords, or castles, or princesses to rescue.  I had to write it.  It was that powerful.  The will to write fiction was back in a big way.

I began enthusiastically tapping away on my laptop and the first few chapters flew by.  I bogged down in the middle of the book and had to abandon my original outline for an even better idea.  I struggled through that period and, as Paul Harvey would have said, “the rest of the story” just flowed until the end.

I did it!  I wrote a book.  I did a little dance, consumed some alcohol, and dreamt of the fame and fortune that would be coming my way.  I had no idea whether or not the work was any good, but the dreaming was fun.  For a while.

Reality set in when I re-read my book.  The story…well, in all modesty…I think it was good.  The writing seemed fine, too.  After all, I had read hundreds of books in my life and knew how to spell and punctuate and not end a sentence in a preposition.  At least, I thought I did.

I had to make hundreds of corrections on my subsequent readings.  After about six re-reads and self-edits, it was ready to release.  I hated my own book by that point because I could almost recite it verbatim.  People read it and liked it—and sent me emails showing me where mistakes still lurked.  I fixed them and put out ten or more revised versions.  Everything had to be fixed by then, right?  Right?

Not by a long shot.  By the time the book had ten reviews, all four and five stars, there were still problems.  My readers, as thorough as they were, did not catch all of the book’s flaws.  But, the story and the characters were good enough to make them like the book.

By the time I figured this out, I was mostly done with the first draft of the second book in the series (The Crayder Chronicles).  I didn’t need to beg (as much) for alpha and beta readers for the second book because I had the contact information for some readers who liked the first book.  My alpha/beta readers are the BEST!  They tore into the second book and sent me lists of little errors that needed correcting.

Every time I made corrections on the second book, I sent out a revised file to the beta readers.  Right down to the last one, they kept finding little errors.  I was well on my way to having to publish the second book, The Willing, and do many revisions just like I had done with the first book.

Did I really want to repeat those mistakes?  Did I really want early readers getting less than my best effort?  Did I really want to keep finding little typos and having to correct them by updating the files on sites like Amazon and Smashwords?

No, I did not.  I am not really bright, but I do try to learn as I go and, as a side note, I have never laid my hand flat on a red hot stove burner again (at least, not on purpose).  I got an editor, Tricia Kristufek.  I call her the “Comma Queen.”  She started with my second book and worked her way back through the first book.

It was apparent that after all of the “cloud editing” that my alpha and beta readers did for me and even after readers pointed out typos as they praised the characters and story, I still sucked as a writer.

“Sucked” is a harsh word.  I guess I didn’t suck compared to some of the bad indie work I have seen out there, but I wasn’t “clean” either.  I did not want to be one of “those” indie authors who put out junk, so I got an editor.  A real editor who could give the books a little polish.  My editor showed me why “sucked” was really not too strong a term for me.

I say all of that to say this: learn from my mistakes.  That is lesson one.  Do not touch hot stoves and do not needlessly cause yourself heartache and embarrassment.  I have already done that for you!

It is terribly embarrassing, in retrospect, to know that the there were still too many mistakes in the first book, even with the last revision, before I had it edited.  How many potential readers downloaded those first couple chapters and noticed something that turned them off?  How many publishers?

See—I have bad habits as a writer.  I can say that freely because if you are a writer, you probably have some too.  I even see bad habits FREQUENTLY on display from well known authors from Big Six publishing houses.

So here is lesson two: You are making mistakes in your writing that you do not even realize and you need someone looking over your shoulder from a totally new perspective that will point them out to you.  Get an editor.  Somehow, some way, get an editor.  See lesson one for a refresher on “why.”

Because I am doomed to analyze positively everything, I thought back and tried to figure out why I had made the mistake of putting out that first book too quickly and with too many errors.  I thought back to how I felt when I was writing that book and how wonderful it felt when I “finished” it.  That was it!  I rushed the book out to be published because I was excited and because I did not know any better.

Lesson three: There is no hurry.  Wait.  Refine.  Think about it.  Do some research.  If you have read this far, you no longer have an excuse for not knowing better…I took care of that for you by making those mistakes already.  See lesson one!

Am I sorry I made so many mistakes with the first book?  Not really.  It turned out just fine in the end.  The characters and the story were always good, or so I have been told.  The writing was where I was mostly falling short and that was fixable.

Plus, I found some wonderful alpha and beta readers that will, hopefully, be available to me as I put out future books in the series.  I made friends that included other authors and bunches of readers and reviewers.

I have one more lesson for you today, take it for what it is worth: your cover is probably bad and is costing you sales.  Did I mention how bad my original covers probably were?  I say “probably” because, as someone who lacks any hint of artistic ability, I made them.  So, when I decided to finally start marketing the series, I started working with Dafeenah from IndieDesignz.  I basically just said, “Here is what my story is about, here are the themes I want to follow, please make me a good cover.”  She delivered in a HUGE way for the cover of The Reluctant.

Here is where the writer of this article should double back and convince you, once again, that he/she is such an expert that you should be following his/her advice.  I will tell you truthfully; I am no expert.  I am just an indie writer fighting his way through this new aspect of the publishing industry.  All I can really tell you is that I am, or have been, where you are or were.  That’s not far yet, but maybe someday…

Splitter

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

So once again, many thanks to Splitter for coming to play today! His new book The Willing is out on 21st, so do check out The Reluctant if you haven’t already looked.

Next week, we have a Q&A with Shane Porteous who will tell us a little about his  new book – one for the werewolf fans among you, he tells me! And further down the line we will have blogs from MTMaguire and Lexi Revellian and if all goes to plan, quite possibly On Dark Shores 2: The Other Nereia though that will be further into December.

So as always, add your comments below and tell us if you’ve already read The Reluctant, what you know of The Willing,and indeed whether your undies hit Bill Oddie after all…

Have a great weekend, peeps!

JAC

Hey peeps –
ain’t we the lucky ones today?! For why you ask (or at least those of you who didn’t read the title do)??
.
Because today we have a special guest post with the lovely Cambria Hebert, published paranormal author, fellow member of the Creative Reviews group on Goodreads (click the button over there on the right if you haven’t visited there yet) and general lovely nutter. This is her, look:
Hot chick with thiing for werewolves

Hot chick with thing for werewolves

Now boys, calm down (girls, she is just as lovely as she looks). She has kindly agreed to answer some questions for this blog to celebrate the release of short story Before, which will be released for your enjoymen and delectation on 18th November, no less and is a taster forher main novel Masquerade, due to hit the shelves on 16th December. Her blog is full of amusing and entertaining stuff, and her book trailers are WAY cool! Especially the one for the short story White-out which is frankly the best book trailer I’ve seen in some time. She is also one of the main culprits responsible for the Creative Reviews Charity Anthology, Christmas Lites, due out on Nov 26th,  so keep an eye out for all of these literary amuse-bouches.
So – let’s hear from the lady herself….

Name: Cambria Hebert

Title: Before

(more details  and frankly fabulous cover are at end of post)

Format: Ebook (no links yet)

One sentence summary:  What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect… Before.

One sentence author bio: Cambria is an author, blogger, latte sipper who loves werewolves and just knows a toilet snake is waiting to get her.

Links:

Website: http://www.cambriahebert.com

Blog: http://www.theunlockeddiary.blogspot.com

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambria-Hebert/128278117253138

Twitter: @cambriahebert

1.  When writing Before what element did you start with and how did it develop?

Before is the prequel to my debut novel, Masquerade, so I used the novel as a jumping off point. Masquerade is based on Heven, a teenage girl who had the perfect life before there was an accident and she was left horribly disfigured on the left side of her face. She is then treated with caution and considered a freak. Heven can’t remember the accident or how she got her scars. Before is about Heven about her life before her accident and the trouble that is lurking in the background that she doesn’t see….

 2.  What was most difficult about writing Before?

The most difficult thing is that it is a short story and shorts are hard!!! Trying to pack some interest and action into such a short amount of writing. Also, I felt a lot of pressure to make it be enticing so people will want to read Masquerade.

 3. Do your characters do as you intend or do they run away with the plot?

They run away with the plot – always!! That’s why it’s so fun to write! Once I researched a character’s name for an hour, picked one out and then wrote the scene where the character came into the book. When he was asked his name he said something else!!! I was like all that time researching wasted! I couldn’t force his name because he never would have been quiet in my head. I would have insomnia!

 4. Why toilet snakes?

Imagine this: its one o’clock in the morning, you wake up and crawl out of bed, trudge through the dark and into the bathroom. You sit down on the toilet, half sleeping… and then a snake bites you! On your butt! Ack!!!  Always look before you sit. It’s a rule!!! Never get caught with a snake on your bum. It could happen. But it won’t happen to me, because I look before I sit. Yes, even in the middle of the night.

 5. Werewolves. How often do you have to groom them?

That’s the beauty of a werewolf. Sometimes they are hairy and other times they are hot men. Wait – not just hot – Hawt. Yup, gotta exaggerate that hawwt. Uh –huh. Anyway, when they get shaggy looking you can just either make them morph into their human selves or send them to the groomer. Or perhaps they can just run off into the woods and scratch themselves against a tree. Either way they are great for cold winter nights….

.

 JAC: <bafflement. Fleas?>

 .

6. Brussel sprouts – why?

As in why would anyone eat them?? I don’t like them. I’ve tried to cook them, bake them, season them. They are gross. They taste like mini cabbages (which isn’t that what they are?) and cabbage is gross too. Sorry to all you cabbage lovers out there!

JAC:
Thanks to Cambria for answering those questions,even if the whole werewolf / fleaing thing is a bit of a worry….. So here are those links again in case you missed them!

Cambria Hebert
Didn’t get enough? Check me out on Tuesday nights at 9pm (EST)
 BEFORE – by Cambria Hebert
 Details:
Cover of short story by Cambria Hebert

What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect…

Before.

This is the story of my past. Of what things were like for me when everything was normal. Of what every teenager’s life is like. Clothes. Parties. Boys and summer vacation. What’s so wrong with that? I liked it. I was happy.

Until things changed. I changed.

I didn’t know that lies and secrets were about to take over my existence. I didn’t know there was someone out there, someone meant just for me. I didn’t know that I was about to go on a journey, a journey that would lead me to the girl I am today.

This is the beginning of the worst year of my life. Would I go back and change things? Erase everything that has happened to go back into these moments?

Not a chance.

This is a story of before.

= = = = = = = = =
So once again thanks to Cambria for her fab interview, and best of luck with the exciting multiple releases over Christmas! And remember, kids, when she’s at the top of the NYT Bestsellers list – you saw her here first!
In the weeks to come – a guest-blog from CS Splitter, author of The Reluctant with hopefully some details about his new release The Willing, due out 21st November…. and a couple of other treats queued up between now and Christmas, so keep an eye on this space! And you never know, it’s just possible that I might have a new release in the On Dark Shores series for you before the end of the year….here’s hoping!
Upon which note I shall get back to my edits and leave you lovely lot to go look at Cambria’s websites (go on! I didn’t put all those links in for nothing!) Have a great week, peeps – and  when you’ve read Before, and indeed all the rest, don’t forget to leave a review!
Catch you later;
JAC

Dear all:

Here for your delectation is a fantastic guestpost courtesy of Lee Sinclair, humorist, founder of The Secret Bookclub on Goodreads (don’t tell anyone I told you about it) and many other entertainments (some listed below). She has been in conversation with Em, star of The Book of Blognots, Not Blogs who has kindly passed on a Halloween anecdote for your perusal. So I leave you in the capable hands of Lee Sinclair as Em regales you with:

My Encounter With The Undead
A blog post by em

I don’t usually go around talking to the undead. I may be crazy, but I’m not THAT crazy. I already have plenty of problems without looking for more. If you’ve read the book that my blogging dog, Big M, and I wrote, you’re aware of the extent of my problems. If you haven’t read it, don’t bother. There’s no useful information in it. Not only do I not have normal problems that normal people have, but I haven’t managed to solve any of them. The best I can do is to ignore them until they go away on their own. And that hardly ever works. Most of my problems insist on sticking around no matter how much effort I put into ignoring them.

Anyway, the other day, my sister asked me about zombies. She has recently been reading books about them and had some questions. Since I know nothing about zombies, I couldn’t help her. But wouldn’t you know, a few days after that, I saw one walking down the street, all bundled up against the chilly fall weather. (Isn’t that the way it always happens? Someone mentions a person or thing, and suddenly you’re seeing them everywhere.) At the time, it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. So I rushed over and began grilling him.

But it turned out it wasn’t an overdressed zombie, after all. It was a mummy. Like I said, I really don’t know anything about zombies, so it’s not surprising I couldn’t tell the difference. Still, who better to answer questions about the undead than a member of the undead. Or so I thought. Although he was perfectly willing to talk to me, his whole conversation was nothing more than a string of curses. I never have figured out how to deal with those who indiscriminately spew bad language. So the mummy’s curses made me feel more and more uncomfortable. I was almost ready to give up my quest for answers when I noticed he had a loose thread hanging off him. And it was just plain bad luck I didn’t have a pair of scissors with me that day.

All I can say in my defense is I was only trying to be helpful. Who knew there was nothing underneath all those wrappings? Mind you, that may not be true for ALL mummies, but it was for this one. Now I feel a little bit like a murderess, although I’m not sure I actually killed him. He just sort of disappeared, leaving behind a pile of stained and smelly cloth. And technically, I don’t think you can kill someone who is already dead. Legally, you can’t be tried for the same crime twice, but I don’t believe there are any laws addressing this particular situation.

Regardless, I still feel really bad about what I did, whatever it was. So if anyone happens to see a naked, invisible mummy, please pass on my sincere apologies to him.

* * * * *

Author & Book Info

I don’t really have a bio because I think of myself as a writer, not an author. Perhaps if I publish several books, I’ll become more accustomed to talking about myself in the third person. Not only that, I don’t live in some evocatively named city with 1 husband, 2 children, and 3 pets. Instead, I’m moldering away in the Northwestern United States because I’m one of those people who like rain and moss. I’m also seriously hampered by my lack of dexterity, so I can’t impress anyone with a list of fascinating skills or hobbies. Besides, those things tend to create clutter, and I’m trying to get rid of my clutter, not add to it. I used to do some gardening, which is a popular author pastime, but to be honest, I was never very good at it and found it to be a lot of work. A final note about myself, I’m only half as crazy as the crazy little old lady in my book.

Providing a description of my book is equally challenging. Try to imagine this: Take Bridget Jones’s Diary and Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints and stick them in a commercial grade blender. Add a dozen noncontiguous pages from Pride and Prejudice and a random page from a dozen different self-help books. Throw in a few columns each from Dave Berry, Ann Landers, and Isaac Asimov. Season with an excessive amount of puns. Then run the blender for about an hour. The resulting mess will be surprisingly similar to my book.

Book of Blognots, Not Blogs by Lee Sinclair

 

 ◊ An irrepressible, reborn spinster who embraces life and technology in her own unique way

 

◊ A blogging dog who tries to explain things he doesn’t understand

 

◊ And a story you’re not going to believe

Links:

Amazon Listing:  Book of Blognots, Not Blogs
Website: www.sinclairstories.com

Group Blog: Boomers and Books

So many thanks go to Lee and Em there – and to the rest of you – have a great Halloween – and if you see a Mummy on the street, you know what to do!!
Take care, all, and watch this space for an interview with Cambria Hebert, author of imminent release “Maskerade” – one for all you paranormal fans out there. More in a week or so!
JAC

Hey all!

Sorry for the long silence – I’ve been busy writing, editing and writing some more!

Book 2 will now bw called “The Other Nereia” and “The Mother” will be book 3 (just as you all requested!). Editing is ongoing – hopefully book 2 will be online before Christmas and the paperback version of 1&2 is due out in Spring 2012.

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for my short story “A Sprig of Holly” in the charity anthology “Christmas Lites” – this is an anthology of short stories written, edited and generally put together by authors, editors, and other members of the Creative Reviews group on Goodreads and is due out in time for Christmas, with all proceeds to go to NCADV, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

More details to follow…watch this space!

Also:

later in the year, an interview with Cambria Hebert, author of the imminent release Masquerade.

This should be a good one, so I’m really looking forward to finding out what she has to tell us about her writing, her radio show and where on earth she first came across toilet snakes….

More later!

JAC

 

http://www.indolentreader.com/2011/08/on-dark-shores-lady-by-ja-clement.html

And what a lovely one!  Check it out, peeps!

Interview here:

http://www.forbiddenpassionsinterviews.blogspot.com/

Do go and leave some of that comment-type love for Catie!

JAC

Hey all:

I am pleased to say that Jenn of “Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger” has asked me to do an author interview and giveaway on her site

Amongst other things, we discuss the Mother of the Shantar and her daughter Eliset, and I explain a little about the aftermath of the war between the Shantari and the Mardonese and why you hear so little about it for most of the first book, though it will feature heavily in the second.

If you’re interested (or if you want to enter for the chance of a free copy of  “On Dark Shores: The Lady” ) you can read more at

Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger

 NB: as an added bonus, if you’re quick you might have a last chance to enter her previous giveaway for a SIGNED copy of “The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa. You’ll have to be quick though – that giveaway finishes in the next day or so (the competition for “On Dark Shores” is open till 24th, so you have  a bit more time for that.

Hope you all enjoy the read:

JAC

And here it is:

http://historicalfictionobsession.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-dark-shores-lady-by-ja-clement.html

Kimberly has a blog at http://historicalfictionobsession.blogspot.com/ on which are many other interesting reviews, so do go and have a look, and if you get there before 21st, enter for her giveaway of The Ghosts of Melrose by Buzz Malone.

Pretty pleased with the review though! Have you read ODS? Did you think the same, or did you pick up on other parts of the story? Leave a comment, and let’s have the discussion…

Hope you’re all having a good week, anyhow – no guest post this week but should be one next week, though not sure who will finish their first, so still tbc!

Catch you later, people;

JAC