S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Category: Self-Publishing (page 1 of 2)

Here’s how you can help people find queer fiction

I was procrastinating  catching up on twitter news when I saw this tweet by Malinda Lo:

There’s a whole thread and conversation going on over on twitter so if you’re so inclined, head over and check it out.

It got me thinking, though, about how hard it still is to find teen fiction with queer main characters. It certainly doesn’t help when authors miss-categorise and miss-tag (deliberately or otherwise) their erotica books so that when you search for things like “lesbian teen sweet romances” what you get in the search result is anything but what you’re looking for.

If you go via the category links to the LGBT YA category (kindle store>kindle ebooks>teen & young adult>lgbt>fiction), the list is dominated by male authors and male main characters.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that we’re seeing an increase in queer fiction across the spectrum being published, but it seems like gay main characters are getting a lot more visibility than female (and other queer categories) at the moment.

Malinda Lo’s thread goes on to detail her ideas on how publishers, readers and authors can help to make books about queer female teens more visible, but her advice (as she indicates in qualifying tweets) mainly relates to traditionally published books.

So I thought I’d do a quick post with a few ideas on how you can help get the word out about queer books, regardless on how they’re published, but particularly if they’re self- or independently published.

  1. If you’re on Goodreads, shelve the queer books you read into queer-related categories and lists.
  2. Review and rate the books you buy wherever you buy them from and mention in your reviews when there’s queer content. More reviews and ratings help with visibility, especially on Amazon, but mentioning the queer content in reviews helps other readers who are looking for those books to find them. Review the books on your vlog/blog if you have one.
  3. Request them at your school and local libraries. Quite often, librarians aren’t sure where to look to add queer books to their collections, primarily because publishers and some major reviewers don’t go out of their way to talk about the queer content. This may be because they’re afraid it might limit the readership, but also because for self-published and independent authors, our books are often not in the release catalogues librarians get, so they don’t even know they exist. As a reader, you can help libraries get more queer books on their shelves for readers just like you to discover.
  4. Tell your friends about your favourite queer authors and books. As a self-published author, it’s extremely hard, especially early on, to find my audience. We don’t have the marketing budgets that are given to traditionally published authors and we don’t have the industry contacts to get our books into the hands of major reviewers. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways for books to find their readers as one reader urges another reader to take a look at their favourite books.
  5. Order your books from your local bookstore when you can. If they get enough orders of an author’s books, they’ll consider stocking them on the shelves.

Finally – and this is less to do with getting the word out and more to do with getting more books written – if you love a book, don’t be afraid to let the author know. Writing in a genre like queer fiction means that authors are often writing into a void, hoping that their books reach readers who need them the most once they’re published. Most of us started off as readers, unable to find the books and stories that spoke to us, that told our stories, that reflected our lives, and so we write them. We write them to fill the libraries of our youth with the stories we wished we’d had.

For my part, I’m going to try to recommend books to you when I can, and even get some lesfic ya authors on the blog for guest posts and interviews.

In the meantime, feel free to jump into the comments here or on Facebook and let me know what queer books you’ve read and recommend. We can always use more books in our TBR pile.

Why authors should outsource

(Plus a quick writing update)

I just finished a project I’ve been working on for over six months, and it’s now off to first round edits. While I’m waiting for it to get back, I decided to take a couple of days off from actual writing and start getting organised for that projects publication.

As Indie authors, everything falls to us to organise (unless we have a personal/virtual assistant, which I hope to have eventually), and for my first book, Crush, I did everything except the cover design.

For this new book, when I thought about having to do the blurb, I broke out in a cold sweat. I absolutely hated writing the blurb for Crush, and it’s not something that comes naturally to me. Yes, I know I’m an author, and creative writing is something I love, but back cover copy and blurb writing is an art form, and it’s one I am not good at. I know the story inside and out, but distilling it down to its essence without seeming bland and without giving a laundry list of ‘this happens and then that happens’ is almost impossible for me.

I wrote a so-so blurb in order to get Crush out on time, but I knew that I would end up spending weeks trying to write one to get the next book out, and I didn’t want to delay the release of the next book simply because I couldn’t get my shit together and write a blurb.

So, I made the decision to outsource the blurb writing to someone I’ve never met, through fiverr, something I’ve never used.

The result was fantastic. My original blurb:

Tess Copeland’s beloved family tradition, the Crush Festival, is under threat from poor attendance and funding cuts and she needs to come up with a way to stop it from falling into the hands of an opportunistic councillor.

Up-and-coming singer Maddie Lambert wants a break from her hectic life and she’s hoping that spending some time away from the spotlight in small-town Chesterfield will help her regroup and refocus.

Tess and Maddie’s budding relationship gives them both a welcome distraction from their problems. But when disaster strikes and the Crush Festival seems doomed, and Maddie’s secret is exposed, they both need to decide what’s important in order to save the festival and Maddie’s career.

Now, that’s okay, and it gives you an idea about the story for sure, but emotive? Not overly.

The new one below, however, blows the original out of the water:

Summertime in Chesterfield means two very different things for teenagers Tess Copeland and Maddie Lambert.

For Tess, spending time with family and anticipating the annual Crush Festival goes hand-in-hand with the country air and the sweet smell of a cane fire. For Maddie, Chesterfield offers an escape from the demands of a reality that she’s just unable to run from.

This summer, however, there is one lit fire that’s even harder to contain than the massive bonfires that characterise the town’s summer spectacle, as young love and awakened passions smoulder in the shadows.

Amidst the turmoil of growing up and the pressures of youth and fame, can these two young women navigate the precipices of adulthood unscathed? Will Maddie and Tess be able to overcome the secrets of a small town and save the beloved festival before it’s too late? Find out in this touchingly sweet coming-of-age tale from SR Silcox–grab your copy today!

See how much more emotive the second one is? It’s much more interesting to read than mine.

And it made me realise something that I hadn’t really come to terms with until now – I suck at selling my own work because I don’t believe I’m good enough. My lack of confidence comes through in how I wrote the initial blurb. It’s unsure of itself, and though it did the job early on, it doesn’t take someone by the scruff of the neck and say READ THIS BOOK!

So without taking any time to make the decision, I went ahead and requested the blurb for the next book as well, and as soon as the job was accepted, I felt like a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders. Everything that’s left to do to get the book out is on me, and those are things I’m looking forward to doing (except the covers – they’ll be outsourced as well).

And that means I can get started on my next project without having to take a month off to get this one finished and sorted, and then trying to get back into writing.

Which brings me to a quick writing update. In my last post in January, I said I had a goal of writing a minimum of 1,000 words a day, five days a week. I set that goal to start on the 1st of February, because I wrote January off thanks to a move back out west which really took it out of me mentally.

I bought myself a calendar and some stickers, and asked my wife to come up with a small treat every week if I hit my goals, and for some reason, it worked. Even though I took a week off in the middle of February (as you can see in the pic below), I still hammered my word count.

February's writing goals achieved

February’s writing goals achieved

 

Tracking my word count in a spreadsheet also helped enormously. I had a goal to hit 20,000 words for the month, and I ended up with over 27,000 words, which is amazing. I didn’t get the project finished in the month, thanks to that week off in the middle, but I did get it finished in the first couple of days of March when I wrote over 13,000 words over four days.

What’s the takeaway from all of this? A couple of things I think.

  1. Revise and improve your process, and you’ll start seeing better results.
  2. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and outsource the stuff that you really aren’t good at to people who are.
  3. Also, for me, setting an achievable goal, such as a minimum of 1,000 words a day over a 5-day week, and tracking my output over time has meant I far exceeded my own expectations.

It also means I can get to my other projects earlier than I expected, and maybe have some spare time to get stuck into some other ones which I have been pushing back for a few years now.

March is shaping up to be a great month, because I get to start the 3 book series I’ve been mulling over for almost two years, and with the next book due for release in May, it’s going to be a busy and exciting next couple of months.

I can’t wait to let you in on the details of the next book in the Girls of Summer series.

Happy writing!

Introducing The Girls of Summer series

So, remember those sweet romances we read as teenagers in the 1980s an 1990s? The ones with lesbian main characters who fell for other girls and had fun adventures and happily-ever-after endings? No? Me neither.

I do, however, remember those sweet teen romances from Silhouette First Love, Dolly Fiction, Sweet Valley High… The list goes on. I remember hiding in the stacks in the library at high school reading those books, never checking them out lest they appear on my borrowing record. Though I loved sci-fi and fantasy (Day of the Triffids and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are still two of my all-time favourite books), when I hit 14 or 15, I started being very interested in the way relationships worked. Because I was a voracious reader, the way I discovered those things was mostly via fiction.

I’ll go into my personal story in a future post, but as I read those short romance books, I quickly learned that it wasn’t the female main characters I identified with the most. It was the male characters that the girls lusted after. I wanted to be those boys that the girls chased after, had fun adventures with and fell in love with by the end of the book.

I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I knew it meant I was different.

I’m not sure whether reading a book with a girl who fell in love with another girl and nothing bad happened and they got to be together in the end would have made me realise back then that I was lesbian, but who knows?

What I do know is that we’re in an exciting time in the publishing industry, when there are more and more books with diverse main characters making their way into the world. A good number of them, however, deal with the ‘bad’ side of being different – the bullying, homophopbia, unhappy endings, coming out etc. While those stories are needed and valid, we also need stories where sexuality isn’t the main plot point.

I think we need more happy endings, more sweet romances, more girls-who-love-girls and that’s okay stories.

And that’s why I’ve been working on a series of sweet teen romances that will feature lesbian main characters, whose problems are just like any other teen, and whose sexuality is not a major plot point.

I touched on the series in this post back in August last year, but since then, I’ve refined the series idea and decided on a direction for it.

The books in The Girls of Summer series, beginning with Crush, are intended to be short and fun reads. Lighthearted sweet teen romances where the girl might struggle to get the girl sometimes, but she’ll never be dealing with bullying or homophobia as the major plot point.

Though they will be linked by taking place in summer (my favourite season of the year), they will be stand-alones that can be read in any order.

And most importantly, the girl will get the girl in the end.

 

Wattpad Edition

Wattpad Edition

Crush is due for release on the 1st May 2015. You can get it for free before it’s released to the general public by signing up to the mailing list here. You can read the first five chapters and synopsis here.

 

 

 

On writing short

It’s taken me a long time to get into a sort of groove with my writing. I’ve learned to plot just enough to keep me going on the story without getting stale or losing my way (thanks largely to the “Beats” chapters in Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant – highly recommended for writers everywhere).

Apart from the plotting side of things, it was always hard for me to work out a word count to aim for. Years ago when I first started writing, I’d done my research into manuscript lengths accepted by various publishers, depending on the genre etc. The general rule of thumb back then, as I think it still is now, is that for a new writer, a length of around 75,000 words is a good length to aim for.

75,000 words is a daunting number, especially when you’re just starting out.

The advent of the kindle and KDP have disproved the theory that word counts matter largely, I guess, because digital books don’t have an actual size. Unlike paper books, which we can hold and weigh in our hands and compare to the one beside it for perceived value ($ per page I suppose), digital books don’t seem to get that same treatment.

It’s true that some reviewers have given books fewer stars in reviews because the story wasn’t long enough compared to the price paid (sometimes as little as 99c!), but for the most part, I think those reviewers were just unsatisfied with the endings.

I digress.

A lot of new advice I’ve been reading lately, when newer writers ask about lengths for manuscripts, has been “write to the story’s natural length.” I think the “natural length” theory also applies to writers.

For example, in my first (and only) attempt at completing Nanowrimo, I topped out at around 25,000 words.

Before I started the book I just finished, I gave myself a target of 15,000 words and ended up at just over 21,000 words. It’s yet to be edited, so that word count will change, though probably not markedly.

During the course of writing that book, and plotting out others I’m working on, I’ve realised that novellas between 15,000 words and 35,000 words seem to be my sweet spot. I think the reason for that is that I tend to be a “sparse” writer – just enough detail on characters and scenes to set the reader up, but I leave most of the description to the reader’s imagination. Whether readers will like that or not remains to be seen, but the fact remains that I write better short.

If I don’t give myself a smaller target to hit, I tend to waffle on (as can be seen by some of my earlier blog posts). It’s also a great motivator seeing the word counter tick closer to the target and then surpassing it with plenty more to write when I have smaller limits.

Shorter books seem to be doing well on kindle now too, though it does depend on the genre I think. Hugh Howey’s Wool started with a 12,000 word novella which turned into a 3-book series of novellas, and there are very few people who complained about the length. Incidentally, he also serialised his books, preferring to publish each part as it was finished, rather than wait until he’d completed the entire books.

Romance novellas are going great guns as well, with authors able to churn out more books more quickly in series that fans devour, because they’re shorter reads.

So, whether my books stay around that 25,000 word length or not, only time will tell. For the moment though, that’s what I’m concentrating on, because the best thing about aiming for a 25,000 word book as opposed to a 75,000 word book is that I get them finished sooner.

And nothing motivates me to continue on to the next book like finishing the last one.

Why you should review your writing plans regularly

Accountants everywhere are celebrating the new tax year, and since I still have accounting in my blood, I used the new year as an excuse to review and revise my business and writing plans. Business plans (and writing plans) should be organic documents. They should change and grow as your business does, so a six-monthly revision is a good way to see how you’re travelling with regards to the business side of things, as well as the writing side.

The business part of my plan didn’t need too much tinkering, since the main goal for the next few years is to write as much as I can and publish as much as I can. I changed a few minor things, such as pricing strategies and marketing schedules, but apart from that, everything business is the same as it was at the start of the year.

The big changes to the plan were made on the writing side. I started off this year wanting to get an adult near-future crime series started (Division 10), re-focus my urban fantasy story (Eli Crane), and look into other genres that I’m interested in.

What I actually did was re-purposed two stories and got them published or gave them away for free through the newsletter (The Break Up and the still untitled Division 10 short story). I also had a short story selected for inclusion into a YA anthology by an emerging publisher that specialises in publishing LGBT YA stories. I’ll post about that when it gets closer to release time, because it’s an exciting story that warrants a post of its own.

I also published a short story, Sunday -fish, that I had earmarked for a competition, but just couldn’t bring myself to enter.

I didn’t track my words, which was something I wanted to do, and until I reviewed my achievements for the first half of the year, I was a little disappointed with what I had managed to accomplish.

That’s another reason to review your business/writing plans regularly – to help you realise that you’ve achieved a lot more than you first thought. I’ve dragged my feet on a lot of projects, partly because of struggling with a few personal issues, but also because I’ve been riddled with self-doubt. The absolute best thing that came from the publication of Sunday – fish and the acceptance of my YA short story (and the process that has followed with the publisher) has really given me a shot in the arm.

The biggest change to the writing plan is that I’ve changed my focus for the next half-year. I blogged about it here, but briefly, I wanted to see if I could take advantage of the publication of the anthology, and to do that, I needed to have some stories out in the YA genre.

After reading a series of posts and tweets about the lack of diversity in YA fiction, it made me realise that my decision was timely. Knowing that readers are asking for fiction that includes characters that represent them (diverse characters including disability, sexuality and culture) makes me extremely happy that I’ve made the decision to change direction, at least for now.

Moving forward, I now have a To Do List for the next two months to keep me on track, that will get updated at the end of August for the following two months.

I feel great having a firm direction to travel in, after feeling a little disorientated for the last few months. And in another six months, I’ll be doing it all over again.

 

Diversity in YA and what I’m doing to change it

In sport, particularly when playing finals, we have a saying:

“Leave nothing in the tank”

In other words, play your absolute best today. Leave nothing for tomorrow. Today, it counts. In writing terms, it would be “Do your best work now.” Don’t wait for tomorrow or next week or next year to work on projects that are close to your heart.

I think it’s entirely appropriate for the way I’m feeling about my writing at this point in time. Why? Because I’ve just completed my half-yearly review of my business plan and writing goals and, among other things, I’ve decided to ditch some projects I’ve been working on (for now), and bring forward some other projects I was going to get to “at some point in the future.”

I’ll write more about my business and writing plan update in another post, but today I wanted to explain why I’ve changed direction so dramatically.

A few months ago, I had a short story accepted for inclusion in an LGBT+ YA anthology from Harmony Ink Press that’s slated for release in September. (Again, more on this next month).

Since then, I’ve read posts and tweets and articles on various blogs around the place about the lack of diversity in YA fiction. Not just with regards to sexuality, but with regards to other cultures, disabilities and other “differences” people have to deal with that are under-represented in the YA fiction currently being published.

This one in particular really made me question my priorities.

It made me revisit the reasons I started writing in the first place, back when I was at uni and was writing as a way to clear my mind from marketing and accounting and law. The reason I started writing was because there was a serious lack of stories with characters I could relate to. And being before the internet, there was no real way of finding any books that may have existed.

Hell, I didn’t even realise I was gay at that point. I just knew I was different – I knew that what my friends said they felt about their boyfriends, I didn’t feel about mine. I also didn’t know anyone who was gay or lesbian, and those words (gay and lesbian) were words that were whispered by adults, out of earshot of children and teenagers.

Back to my short story for a moment – before I submitted it, I did a bit of googling to see what I could find out about the publisher. That was more a business decision at the time, because I wanted to make sure it lined up with my long-term goals as a writer.

What I discovered is that Harmony Ink’s philosophy lined up with my own initial reasons for writing – to write the stories I wish were around when I was a teenager.

It’s a pretty simple concept really, and in my haste to get stories out, I’d actually forgotten why I write in the first place.

So what do I wish I’d read way back then, when I was struggling to put a name to how I was feeling?

I wish I’d read stories where the girl got the girl in the end. I wanted stories that when I’d turned the last page and read the last word, made me feel good about myself. Stories that gave me a sense of hope that I could fall for someone who would fall for me too.

Here’s the thing though – I used to write those stories. I used to write about girls like me, whose friends didn’t think she was strange for liking other girls.

When I started to take my writing seriously though, I stopped writing those stories. Why? Because I knew, deep down, that if I wanted to get published, I wouldn’t get there by writing about girls who like other girls.

Books like that are getting published now, yes, but not  often enough. And they’re certainly not being publicised enough or given a chance to reach their audience. An audience which is obviously hungry for those books.

Publishing is changing though, and publishers like Harmony Ink Press, who specialise in LGBT+ YA fiction are leading the charge. But a big influence on my decision to go back to writing those YA stories is the advent of self-publishing, and the ability to reach readers more directly.

There are a lot of new ways for authors to write and publish more diverse books, and for readers to find them.

It’s an exciting time.

And from now on, I’m leaving nothing in the tank. I’m not letting these stories languish in the back of my mind to get to “some time in the future.”

Because the stories I want to write aren’t needed tomorrow, or next week or next year – they’re needed now, yesterday, today.

The girls I’ve been waiting so long to write about are shy, strong, tough, sensitive, flawed, and lesbian. And finally, after waiting all these years, they’re coming out to play.

 

Stuff I Found Interesting On the Web

I read a lot. Books, blogs, facebook, news articles, tweets, the backs of toilet cleaner bottles. And I thought, hey, maybe the few people who stop by here occasionally might be interested in what I found interesting around the place. I’ll post this stuff monthly, and sometimes more than that, depending on what floats my boat.

It’ll mostly be random stuff, so expect sport, publishing/self-publishing news, blogs I liked, sport, stuff I procrastinated with, sport.

JA Konrath
Joe Konrath has a lot of publishing greatness on his blog. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend reading it. This post is timely I think, because the publishing industry is going through some big changes, and Joe wants you to think about how  you define yourself, and whether you let others do it for you instead. Unusually introspective from Joe, but a great post.

Joanna Penn – The Creative Penn
Hot on the heels of Joe’s post is an earlier post from Joanna Penn at the fantastic Creative Penn website. She asks what your definition of success is. It’s important to understand this concept if you’re a self-published author. I have a list of income amounts I want to hit. For example, $5/week buys me my weekly coffee at my local cafe; $10/week gets a slice of cake with my coffee; $20/week gets me my coffee, pays my monthly mobile bill AND I get to eat my cake too. You get the picture. Having concrete income goals allows me to work backwards and calculate how many books I’ll need to sell and at what prices to allow me to make that consistent income. It also gives me to something to aim for so I keep my eye on the coffee and cake prize.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has great advice on her website for writers, and she currently writing a Discoverability Series that centres on how writers can find their audience. You can read the first of the series here, but she’s now up to part 11.

Lesfic Downunder
Some new sites for Lesbian Fiction have popped up. Lesfic Downunder aims to bring Aussie and Kiwi lesfic authors together under one roof. And Indie Lesfic is showcasing hybrid, indie and self-published lesbian fiction authors from around the world. Check them out for your next great read, and to learn more about some of your favourite authors.

New Books Out
In new book news, Layce Gardner and Saxon Bennett have released a new book. More Than a Kiss is out at all good online bookstores. From the product description:
“One minute Jordan March was falling out a window and the next she was falling in love – with the emergency room doctor! It looked as if nothing could stand in the way of Jordan and Dr. Amy Stewart finding true love together… except a banana peel, a psycho stalker, a lesbian poetess, an extreme chef, a KGB spy, and a sex toy inventor.
Join Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner as they combine their creative *genius to bring you the romantic comedy of the century.
** Guaranteed money back if you don’t laugh out loud.
* Geniuses in their own mind.
** This is a lie. The authors are broke.”

Publication of my short story “The Break Up”
In case you missed it, my short story The Break Up was published online at narratorPride. Head on over to check it out along with other GLBT(xyz) writings.

And don’t forget, if you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter to get a sneak peek into my upcoming series Division 10.

 

What have I been up to?

I’m glad you asked. I’ve been busy writing. Actually, I took 3 weeks off in January to holiday in Tasmania. Let me tell you, if you haven’t been down to visit one of our first penal colonies, you must go. Do it now. I’ll wait.

Lots of wonderful memories and photos and experiences came from that trip, and it also recharged my creative batteries. As such, my writing has been off the charts, though intermittently, I must admit.

So what have I been working on during those short and intermittent bursts of creative activity?

Lots of things! All of the things! And this last week I have managed to cut back to two projects. Well, maybe three, but that depends on whether my main character continues to attempt to kill himself off.

So, what’s coming up this year then? You know by now that I hate (really hate) putting my schedule out there. I’ve done that twice now, and I’ve not delivered. This year though will be THE year I get my butt into gear and do what I’m told. And that is, get some more things published! For people to buy! And to read! (Hopefully. Though you know, buy my book and don’t read it. It’s totally up to you. Who am I to tell you what to do with my book once you’ve handed over your hard-earned?)

Okay, so, without further ado, here is what I plan to release this year, for your reading (and buying) pleasure:

1. Division 10 – My near-future take on the crime genre has newly minted Detective Sarah Price tackling crime in Division 10, aka the Badlands as the locals like to refer to their little piece of paradise lost. It’s a haven for prostitutes and publicans, drug lords and wanna-be gangsters, and other down-on-their-luck inhabitants. It’s an age of privatised police forces where you get what you pay for – which in the Badlands amounts to exactly nothing. The only law left in town until Detective Price turns up is ex-cop/sometime PI/bounty hunter/cabbie Rachel Murphy, who keeps the peace by staying out of anything gang-related that doesn’t concern ordinary citizens. Her theory, which is still in the testing phase, is that the dregs of society will kill themselves off soon enough, and that she doesn’t need to do much to assist them. This will be a series of novellas and novelettes that I hope will be fast-paced, action-oriented, and focused on the characters as much as the crimes. Stay tuned for the release date of the first book in the series, and sign up to the newsletter (if you haven’t already) to get a sneak peek at some deleted scenes.

2. The Pertwhistle Project – Those of you who read my old blogger blog will remember a sneak peek of this series that I put up last year. This will be a serial/series set in a steampunk version of Australia, where I take liberties with history and science, all in the name of saving Stella Pertwhistle’s Uncle from the gallows in London. Along for the ride will be a motley cast of characters, not least of whom is Stella’s ex-lover Darcy O’Donnell, forger extraordinaire, and the woman who (so she says) made Sherlock Holmes into the folk hero we know today. So, airships! Mechanical contraptions! Doctor Boyle’s Famous Elixir! Miss Elliott’s Infamous Whiskey! Plus bush rangers, gold mines and a nefarious plot to rob the mint!

Along with those two major projects, I’m working on various plot ideas for YA titles that I’ll work on in between the major series releases. The series are the priority though, so I’ll announce the YA titles when they’re closer to publication. Which could be this year, or next year, or, you know, never.

I also have another series in production, tentatively titled The Legend of Eli Crane. I came across Eli during my first and only attempt to complete Nanowrimo a few years ago. He walked into a bar, got shot, and stole my heart (as well as some souls that didn’t belong to him). He keeps trying to get himself killed though, so he’s in character-purgatory until he behaves himself enough to warrant a shot at a starring role in his own series. Depending on how the other two series go, I might give him another shot in a couple of months.

On a bit of a side note, I’m also trialling a new productivity hack called the Pomodoro Technique, which effectively cuts my writing time into bite-sized segments, with little breaks in between. I hardly feel like I’m writing! I’ll see how I go with it, and might do a separate blog post on my success or failure using the technique.

So, there you go. Things to look forward to. And again, if you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter. As I said earlier, I’ll be releasing some sneak peeks and some deleted scenes from the upcoming series, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on that now, would you?

 

Introducing… the Self Publishing Podcast Boys

I’ve been on a digital organising frenzy over the last month since I’ve had some time off. Mainly cleaning out my emails and tidying up the way I structure and save my WIPs, but I’ve also been taking a good hard look at the blogs and websites I follow, and the newsletters I’ve signed up for. (I’m a sucker for email lists!)

I’ve found that since I’ve upped my work-load over the last few months, I’ve got less and less time to spend on reading blog posts (and books, unfortunately), and so I’ve started unsubscribing to a lot of them in order to reduce the amount of emails I get every week.

What I DO love though, are podcasts. I’m not subscribed to nearly as many podcasts as I am blogs, and I don’t listen to them all regularly, but I do listen to some of them regularly. One of them is the Self Publishing Podcast.

The three hosts, Johnny B Truant, David Wright and Sean Platt, are all self-published authors in their own right, and they also have some books and serials published through Amazon’s imprints. They get out a phenomenal amount of product every year and they really know their stuff. They’re not afraid to share news and information on what works for them, and they regularly have guests on to talk about the things they don’t know.

They also answer questions from listeners, either directly through their live chat, or from voicemails.

The thing I love about them though is that they’re not afraid to admit they they’re still working out what works, just like the rest of us plying our trade in digital books. They’re not snake-oil salesmen trying to sell you formula and quick-fixes; they’re authors giving other authors an insight into their methods and thought-processes.

Best of all, they’re funny. Hilarious, even. The three of them have a fantastic rapport. They play off each other effortlessly and often have me laughing out loud at their banter, especially when they’re ribbing Dave, who is the resident Eeyore.

They also have a companion podcast called Better Off Undead, which is what I like to call SPP After Dark – it usually goes for half the time, but is double the laughs. It’s also where Dave comes into his own and gets to unleash his rants in a regular segment called “What’s Up Dave’s Butt?” (with its very own musical introduction no less).

For anyone who publishes, whether it be through the traditional means or otherwise, I highly recommend listening to these guys.

On a related side note, they have a book out called Write. Publish. Repeat. which is currently one of the best books on the market for self-publishers. I’ve read it and can highly recommend it.

‘Tis the season…to go a little bit crazy

Today marks the official start of the Christmas Season, which for me means organising a visit home, booking our dogs into suitable digs for their “holiday”, and trying to find new hiding places for my wife’s Christmas presents.

It also means I’m a few weeks off my promise to have “something” published before the end of the year. Although I’ve had 12 months to get stuff finished, it’s taken me that long to get into a good routine, work through the ideas I have and to find my voice.

I’m still struggling with a few things but I’m getting better. I have some short stories I’m happy with so they’ll get published but more likely in the new year, and after I have some longer books out.

I have managed to get a lot of work done in the last week on a new project that’s been marinating for a few months. I have a very short time-frame, but I’m planning on this one being available for Christmas – a great time for publishing a debut work I think.

I’m also working on a project for a good friend of mine, which I’ll reveal when it’s ready to go (in the next week). It’s a very special and exciting project that’s been almost 2 years in the making, and it’s something that I’m proud to be a part of.

And that brings me to the ‘crazy’ – since the production schedule is so tight, I’ve been working late nights and early mornings just to get my own special project done. I have a few days left to get the first draft to my Beta’s, I’ve commissioned a cover that should be ready in the next week or so, and I’ve got all the back-of-house stuff ready to go – smashwords and amazon accounts, links, business stuff etc – so I’m hoping once the actual book is finished, it will be a smooth transition from unpublished writer to published author (famous last words, I know).

If  you want to hear about the progress of both of these projects, sign up for the newsletter. Subscribers get to hear about stuff first, and as a bonus, subscribers who sign up before the end of December get a free copy of my short story ‘The Breakup’.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing about today – it marks the day I get to open the first flap on my Advent calendar.

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