Monday, 30 November 2015

The way we live

The way we live...

In the latest journal of the Society of Authors I read in interesting article about consumerism (I'm terrible - I can't recall who wrote it). But it got me thinking about the way we live now. Netflix and my recent purchase of this on-demand product is just one example of this. And I'm always a little late to the party. I got Netflix because I want to watch  tv show and movies when I want to watch them. I don't want to sit and watch mindless tv waiting for something good to come on. I want to watch the mindless tv I choose.

Amazon too announced they will charge readers as they read for borrowed books, no longer charging for the full book. I remember a time when if I started a book I had to finish it (admittedly that was just me - but sometimes I was pleasantly surprised at the end). Okay, so I don't always finish what I start anymore, but still... it was something I was doing – there was no incentive to stop reading like there is now. Will this mean more 1* reviews if the book isn't a page turner? Even if the end is crowd pleaser?

I could be wrong, but most authors are traditionalists at heart, or so I like to think. We may embrace the Kindle, after all it has opened up the world of self-publishing, but we still cherish a paperback – holding those carefully crafted stories in our hands. And in waiting for a particular TV programme you often stumble across a show you wouldn't have ordinarily watched.  You see there is a benefit of not watching stuff on demand.

You may not agree with this. Our time is limited you say, why spend time reading something we are not going to enjoy, why waste time watching television shows with adverts. Want to read something you normally wouldn't - they call it a book club - or film club for that matter. I see your points, I do, but my issue is this: the world we live in is fast moving and it seems to be going faster and faster... Will it stop - no, it's likely to get worse. The younger grow up with life happening all around them - documented with a photo and then they quickly move on ( Geez, I sound like a gran)

We are in a fast moving world. We expect things to happen quickly, we want everything to be perfect. I'm no different. I generally get twitchy if I send an email and don't get a response the same hour... yes I have a problem. But being constantly connected via our phones and tablets, I like to say I am just a victim. Social media helps us authors, but at the same time because it's always there on your phone luring you in, if you are like me you tend to feel guilty when for not promoting your book, checking the competition and of course as you can always see what other authors and entrepreneurs are doing, you can see what you should be doing and feel the guilt.

It's not going to change, this world we live in. If you try and slow it down, you'll get left behind, or worse still trampled by a FOMO (someone with the fear of missing out on social media). So what can we do? Well, we can change ourselves - amend our expectations. I'm not saying put your standards in the gutter, but perhaps we need to asses how important something is to us, what the consequences of our expectations are before having them. And I reckon we just need to start being kinder – to ourselves (we won't get everything right, we can't do everything all of the time), to everyone else – put yourself in their shoes before making a judgement, remember that we all make mistakes and for me to note more than anyone else - be patient. Some people take longer to respond than others and what is the hurry.

Right, rant over... What I really wanted to say is that this Wednesday and next I am hosting two guest bloggers. The fabulous Elizabeth Mapson – Author of The Amazon's Girdle who is blogging about 'falling into murder' . I've read her 2nd novel at Abingdon writers and this one is on my kindle, waiting in line. She writes so beautifully, her books are definitely worth reading.  The following week Lizzy Huitson will be giving you her top tips when you start out writing. I've read the post and I have to say even if you are an established writer you will enjoy reading this. Until then...

Monday, 23 November 2015

Success is not final...

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill
Today I was reading the Guardian online today when I stumbled on an article about Posh Spice... from Posh to classy it was called or something like that. And I have got to say I found it rather inspirational. It's basically about how Victoria Beckham tried at Pop and failed but then tried at fashion, worked up slowly to what she wanted and basically nailed it. She tried and tried until she got there. I think she even says in the article that she went out to get her success she didn't wait for it to come to her and I've got to say I found it rather inspiring.
The quote above sums this up quite well. I thought I would share it so anyone out there thinking of starting something can read it and hopefully be inspired too. You've got to start somewhere, right?  Here is the link to the article: Posh to Classy
In other news I have just finished reading A Hundred Summers by Biatriz Williams which really tugged on my heart strings. Set in my favourite era - the 1930's. If you liked the Book of Lost and Found you'll probably like this. It's different but of the same ilk if you know what I mean.
Oh and Under the Coconut Tree got a mention in The Ocelot magazine. I picked a copy of the magazine up in the pub and there it was... a lovely surprise! So a big thank you to the editors.
And a final note a few new and fabulous writers will be guest posting on my blog in the next month of so, so watch this space!


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle...

Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.”   Margaret Atwood

You have to love Margaret Atwood quotes, don't you? So today I find myself going back on my word. I said that from now on I was going to publish my books myself, unless I got a big publishers. However, on brazenly stating this at my last writer's group meeting I realised this brash statement of mine lacked any foresight. There are some great little independent publishers out there and I was a bit blinkered to think otherwise.

 I have therefore decided to approach a fairly new publisher, just one, with Poison in the Water. Why? Well I know someone who has had a book published with this firm and she seems completely happy with them. From what I have seen they seem really committed to their authors, building a relationship and helping with the all crucial marketing. But that is not the only reason I am approaching them. The other reason is that from the stuff they have published, this particular book of mine feels like a good fit. A determined female protagonist with a passion for life who works in fashion… Seems to fit with their target market. Anyway. I am hoping to submit to them soon (Their submission process doesn’t look too arduous either) and I will let you know if something comes of it. My only worry is that I am not getting it proof read before I submit…Obviously if I publish it I will pay for a full edit, but right now I can’t really justify doing so.

So there you have it. When I’m wrong I say I’m wrong.  Chupplejeep will still be self pubbed for now… the good news is that I have managed to put GT onto Scrivener (whoever invented Scrivener deserves a medal) so an updated version without the unfortunate typo and with an Under the Coconut Tree taster at the end will be available by the end of the week.  

In other news I have just finishes reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (I gave it three stars – It was a good book but it didn’t set my world on fire – possibly not the genre for me!) and I’m contemplating what to read next. I’m also looking forward to a writing group critique session coming up… I’ve grown fond of this sub group we have created. For a writer who doesn’t have many friends who write they are a breath of fresh air, people I can discuss plot and dialogue with without feeling like the geek!

I would also like to thank my readers (of this blog) for your support. I don’t get many comments on here and that’s fine but it can make you wonder who is actually reading this (apart from my followers of course!) But the other week I got an email from a fellow writer who said they had read my blog and liked it and it really put a smile on my face…

Until next time.

Monday, 2 November 2015

If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing...

If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.
John Wooden
So yesterday I saw a review on Amazon for my first book – Goa Traffic – pointing out a mistake, an unforgiveable mistake – I had written Sheikh instead of Sikh. I saw the comment and I thought that can’t be right. I definitely know the difference there. There are in fact no Sheikhs in the book. I quickly did a search in my original document and to my horror it was there. How had my editor not picked this up, worse still, how had I not picked this up? The book has been on sale for five years. Countless friends have read it – no one mentioned it. Usually I would say people are too polite to mention mistakes…but believe me typos have been pointed out to me before. So either people have read it and thought, that author is an idiot or they haven’t picked it up (I’m hoping for the latter). Either way I feel bad… It’s strange though when someone spotted a typo in my traditionally published book, I shrugged and said, ah well. I guess with having a publisher you don’t feel your work has to be as perfect as when you self pub- because you have the comfort that they have had confidence in you.  Self pubbing gets such a bad name when it comes to editing that you have to be perfect and for a non-perfectionist (is that a word?) like me  that is hard.
Having self pubbed this book, I feel completely responsible for my faux pas. In fact I feel awful. Now that I know it is there (at least with self pubbing) I can make the change – although it won’t be quick. GT was published in a time before Scrivner when I had to manually sort my formatting. It took an age and I must have wiped from my mind how I saved it as a Mobi file as I have no idea of how to do that now. So I need to put it into Scrivner and organise it that way. This will also give me a chance to add some spiel at the back for Under the Coconut Tree.
I am hoping to get it done this week, but I have also been wondering if I should withdraw GT from the market. Whilst it still has an average rating of 4*s and has 19 5* reviews I can’t deny that there have a few 1* reviews and although critique is good… Do I want a book out there with my name on that I am having serious doubts about?
Don’t get me wrong. I was more than happy with it when I published it, but I was also impatient and my writing skills were limited. I know the POV changes mid scene 9I still like doing that but try to restrain myself) and its more tell than show probably. With every new book I learn some more but once a book is published I cannot open it again. I can’t bear to look inside it. I don’t know why – it’s a thing. Anyway, back to whether I should take GT off the market. The reasons for leaving it on are as follows:  GT sells more than any of my other books, without me doing an awful lot. It has been reviewed by editors and companies too which gives me some comfort. I’ve had emails from people saying they loved it and I’ve had some great reviews… and their reviews are just as valid. Although authors love to dwell on the negative. Plus GT was the book that got me out there. Without it I wouldn’t have secured a traditional publishing contract. In fact, without the commercial success of GT I don’t think I would have had the idea of the Chupplejeep mysteries. And finally, as sales for the title were beginning to decline suddenly sales tripled last month. I’ve sold more copies of GT than any other book so which would I rather fewer sales and 0 1* reviews like my other books or loads of sales and some negative comments – you’ll never please everyone I guess.  For me the benefits, I guess, outweigh the negatives, for now.
So authors, when we get all those rejection letters after we send our books to agents that is just the start of it. There are so many other upsets along the way that we need to deal … but hey, I’ve taken comfort from the above quote and I still believe it is better to do than to keep your manuscript in a drawer gathering dust.  And as H says… It’s just a book –no one is going to die. He doesn’t understand and although that can be annoying at times it takes me out of my writing bubble and makes me realise that it’s not all about me, me,me. I recently read an article where the author said the only people that really read the 1* reviews are the authors themselves.  It makes me laugh because it is probably true. Most people I know avoid the extremes of reviews. Anyway, I’ll put the bruised ego away and take a deep breath as Kingsley Amis says ‘A bad review may ruin your breakfast, but you shouldn’t let it spoil your lunch.’