More on helping authors you love – and finding new ones to love.

Super Reader, as found on freedigitalphotos.net

Super Reader, as found on freedigitalphotos.net

Sorry, my bloggies and blogettes for the late post.  I have posts almost done, but also have a deadline and right now the deadline is winning.  Because I’m hoping that, if all goes to plan, this deadline will lead to a companion story for Rules are for Breaking (squee!).  For those of you who’ve read it, it’s Kate and Josh’s story and it’s close to my heart, as I love these characters.

But enough of that!  The other day I wrote a post on how to help authors you love stay in print.  Well, today (in a break from the ms) I read another author’s post that illuminates another aspect of how things beyond an author’s control can affect availability of their books.  The post is about the barney between Barnes and Noble and Simon and Schuster and you can read it here.

This is a sad state of affairs for this author.  But the point I want to make is that one of the big problems that all these things cause, for both writers and readers, is in how they affect discoverability.  How do you find the books and authors in the first place, so that you can love them and pre-order new books?

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Younger Readers Review: The Truth about Verity Sparks

Verity SparksToday I once again welcome my stalwart reviewer for younger readers, the SSH (Secret Squirrels Helper) with her review of The Truth about Verity Sparks, by Australian author Susan Green.

The official blurb for the book begins as follows:

Verity Sparks is a thirteen-year-old orphan working as a milliner in Victorian London. But Verity is no ordinary girl; she has an almost perfect memory and possesses the talent of Teleagtivism. She can easily find things that are lost! When Verity is wrongly accused of theft and dismissed from her job, she goes to live with the Plushes, a slightly Bohemian family who run a Confidential Inquiry Agency. Verity helps them solve cases and slowly becomes one of the family. But patches of the truth about her past begin to surface, along with the special talent that Professor Plush is helping her explore…

And now, here’s what herself has to say about it…

 Who doesn’t want them to know the truth about Verity Sparks?

This story opens with Verity Sparks, milliner’s apprentice and heroine of the piece. Ms Green creates a delightful blend of adventure and mystery; it moves from feathers and rubies to the truth about her past. Continue reading

Readers, flex your buying muscles for authors you love

Super Reader, as found on freedigitalphotos.net

Super Reader, as found on freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve just had a conversation with an author friend that made my blood boil and my hair curl and I want to share it with you because YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE THIS BETTER.

Seriously, how many things is that true of?  Not many.  But this is a situation that you, as a reader, as a consumer can have a direct and meaningful influence on.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to PRE-ORDER THE BOOKS YOU WANT TO READ.

What, you say?  Why?  What difference does it make when I buy them?  Surely the sale is what matters?

The answer is, yes, it can matter a lot.

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Recipes are just a click away…

I promised you recipes (there was a twitter conversation with at least one person) and I am keeping this promise.  But I’m keeping it over at my fellow wordpresser and RWA sister’s blog.

I’m at Cathryn Hein’s Friday Feast today, talking a bit about food and books and giving recipes for quick hasty tasty Evans favourites: dukkha (as it is not made in the Middle East, I’m sure, but still tasting good), Cajun Rare Salmon, Smashed Potatoes and Greek Salad.

Yes, it is a culturally diverse meal ( I prefer ‘diverse’ to ‘messed up’).  I live in Melbourne, a city which has never met a cuisine it didn’t want to absorb and run with.  To be honest, the same could be said of much of Australia.  In recent years (and apart from the Aboriginal Australians, it’s all recent) we are a country of immigrants so we have a lot of different influences in our kitchen pots.  For which I, for one, am very grateful!

Anyway, to encourage you to hop over and have a look at the post, here are some pictures…

Cajun Salmon with Smashed PotatoesDukkah ready to eatGreek Salad

AVAGOODWEEKEND!

Tired but happy traveller returns: ARRC13 and me, THE AUTHOR!

I have been absent from the bloggery for a while.  For those who noticed, I’m sorry, truly.  It’s not that I haven’t had ideas for posts.  My brain it teems with schemes (as usual).  But a couple of things got in the way of me getting them onto the blog.  The pictures below show the fun one:

It's me! At a real live book signing with real books!And here I am being famous author person (or at least a passable facsimilie in this particular moment)

I have been out of town.  In Brisbane, Queensland, to be precise at the very wonderful Australian Romance Readers’ Convention, run by the even more wonderful Australian Romance Readers Association.  (If you love Romance, you really should check them out.  And give them money.  And come to the next ARRC!)

At this wonderful weekend, I got to be An Author. And talk about being one (a talk which involved a miniature T-Rex for reasons not even I can explain).  And attend an author signing. AN AUTHOR SIGNING! ON THE SITTING DOWN SIDE OF THE DESK! SQUEEEEEE!

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Guest YA Review: Trapped by Chris Jordan

Today I welcome my special guest YA reviewer the SSH (Secret Squirrels Helper).  She’s an avid reader who, unlike me, actually enjoys writing book reviews and she has agreed to help me out with some.  I provide the books, she provides the reviews – it works for both of us!

Today she’s covering something a little more hard-core than the ones she’s done before.  I’ll let you read it…

Trapped Chris Jordan

Trapped

Chris Jordan

“Mum, I need your help. Please call –”

That’s it. the call cuts off in mid-sentence. No static. Nothing

Mr Jordan opens when Jane Garner the wedding dress lady, driving home from a dress checking, sees her daughter on a motorbike. Really, that was the most terrifying thing she could see. The daughter who barely survived childhood leukemia, risking her life on the roads. Unfortunately for her, that is only the beginning of the nightmare. When her daughter disappears, it’s a race against the clock to find her.

This book had me on such tight tenterhooks I still have the wedgie and it’s almost as gripping as quicksand. After losing his casino, his chiefdom, his kids and his country, Ricky Lang was determined to get revenge. Edwin Manning lost his son, Jane Garner lost her daughter, the last family member left to her, and the police don’t even seem to care, and certainly don’t look like they are going to do anything.

This was the first full-on thriller I have ever read, and I’ve got to say, it freaked me out. Just a little. Okay, by the end I was hiding under a quilt, but still. It really is quite scary, especially since the villain is completely and utterly insane, and therefore totally pitiless. I spent most of the book wondering whether Kelly was still alive, and if so, for how long.

I loved it, but I also recognise that this is a niche market, and could be unpalatable for people. It is terrifying, and leaves you looking over your shoulder. If you like thrillers, then this book is for you. if you have never read one before, I don’t think this is the place to start, unless you wan’t a baptism of fire.

Trapped was published by Mira in 2007. For Amazon link, click the cover above.

If you liked this review and would like more, please let the SSH know in the comments!

NaNo’s history – so what’s next?

As you know, this year I participated (unofficially) in National Novel Writing Month (known to its friends as NaNoWriMo.

The stated aim is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  But I’ll be honest with you.  I never expected to write 50,000 words.

If I had been writing a new work, I might have managed that, or something close, but I wasn’t.  I am close to the end of my big work in progress (WIP) and I had stalled somewhat, as I faced the brutal reality of pulling together a tense plot which is much more complicated than anything I’ve written before.

This is supposed to represent me being all gritty and determine to write - but really it's just an excuse to fangirl over The Hobbit!

This is supposed to represent me being all gritty and determined to write – but really it’s just an excuse to fangirl over The Hobbit!

For me, NaNo was about overcoming The Fear (yes, always capitalised, as that is how it looms in my head and heart) of failure – and using a deadline, or word count target to push through it.

So, the good news is that it worked.  I got through the part that was stalling me, am out the other side and am on the downhill run.

The even BETTER news is that I have learned something really important about how I work and how to set word count goals that are challenging but manageable.

I have previously struggled with word count goals, as the way I work means that I can seldom achieve the giddy numbers that many people do.  Sure, there are days, when the story is flowing, that I can get down several thousand goodish words which I can edit later without too much trouble into something worth reading.  But these days I tend to plan a bit more in advance, so I know more about what I’m trying to do in a scene, which means I choose my words more carefully and consequently it takes longer.  I might write many thousands of words during a session, but I end it with a much smaller number of edited words and those are the only ones I count.  Since they’re the only ones that contribute to the book’s total, that seems sensible, to me.

And naturally, the more complicated the plot and the point in the plot, the trickier the scene is to write and the more slowly I get to those magic ‘finished’ words.

However, what this hot-house period of NaNo has taught me is that, even on the worst days, writing from scratch (which no previous words to edit) and in the trickiest of scenes, I can create 1,000 finished words.

In previous times, when in the grip of production panic and comparing myself to other people (never a good idea; comparisons really are stinky) I would have flapped around saying ‘it’s not enough!’  Must do more!

But that was stupid.  This is the same thinking that led me, when editing a magazine, to decide what needed to be done on each day, without any reference to what was possible, then, when it didn’t happen, just add today’s list to tomorrow’s list.  Trust me, that way madness and sickness lie.  I succumbed to both.

And it isn’t even necessary.  If I can turn out 1,000 ‘finished’ words a day, working five days a week, I will have 100,000 words in 20 weeks – or six months, allowing for holidays and the unexpected.  That’s a whole novel.  And that is a speed I can live with.

So this is my new goal: a minimum of 1,000 good words a day.

I know this is a good goal, as it makes me feel energised and inspired, rather than overwhelmed and panicky.  I also know it’s good because I have been doing it since the 1st of December and it is working!  On the hardest day, I managed 1200 good words from scratch.  On another day, I wrote 895 edited words, and 1,000 of a rough draft of the next scene, which the following day turned into 2,500 edited words – giving me roughly 3,395 (or a chapter, basically) over the two days.  Which shows the other benefit of a good goal – because I’m not afraid of this goal, I just sit down and do it and as a result, I’m building up momentum again, something I thought I’d lost on this story!

So, although I got nowhere near the official word count, I am very happy with the results of my unofficial NaNo.  My friend Alison Stuart also found it an inspiring learning experience, even though she didn’t make the numbers either.  (You can read about what she learnt here.)

How did you go?  Did you try? Did you succeed?  What has it taught you that you can use into the future?

Starring me as a social butterfly with real estate fantasies…

I am really getting around this week.  On Monday I was being interviewed by my lovely colleague Juliet over at the RWA blog.

Today, I am visiting the Lovecats Downunder.  The Lovecats are a delightful bunch of romance writers who very kindly invited me to visit their blog and said I could talk about ANYTHING (which shows they’re brave as well as lovely, dontcha think?)

I decided to talk about setting in Rules are for Breaking (debut novel out now, forgive me but I never get tired of saying that!) and in the process discovered that I have a scarily long memory and that I am obsessed with setting.

I know people who do long complicated ‘interview’s with their characters before they begin writing a book.  They find out who their best friend was when they were five, what their mother said when they were a teenager that scarred them for life and the like.  The idea of doing this both bores and terrifies me to tears.

Yet, I will happily take a whole day to wander around inner-city Melbourne looking for a building that looks right and is on the right tram line for my heroine to live in.  Or drive two hours to a pub by the sea that I want to set an important scene in (different novel, in case you were wondering).  I wonder if there’s a name for this condition?  Apart from real estate obsession?

Anyway, if you’d like to know a bit more about my weirdness and how it percolates into my novels, do feel free to to come and visit the Lovecats with me.

And don’t forget, if you’d like to go into the draw for a pretty bracelet and a free copy of the book, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter.  It’s free, infrequent and I will never sell or otherwise distribute your details.  Ever.

Thanks for visiting and haveagoodweekend!

It’s Spring! So I’m all dressed up with somwhere to go…

Today I’m being featured in an Author Spotlight over on the Romance Writers of Australia blog, and there’s a chance to win a copy of my book!

I’m very chuffed about it.  It’s still a novelty for me to be interviewed as an author and on the RWA blog I’m in some very good writerly company.

I got so excited that I revamped the blog specially.  What do you think?

And to celebrate the new web look, I decided that I really need to wrap up my newsletter competition and do the draw for this pretty thing from Avalaya (who make gorgeous costume jewellery and deliver pretty much everywhere):

For those who didn’t notice first time around, I’m planning to set up a newsletter e-mailing list, to use when I have book news (something I hope will be more regular in future 🙂 ).  If you would like to be on the list, you can fill out the form below and to thank you, I’ll put you in the draw for the bracelet, a copy of Rules are for Breaking (pictured in the sidebar if you’re interested) and some surprise prizes.

So if you comment over at the RWA blog and sign up here, you will have two chances to win.  And I’ll think you’re lovely!

Introducing Monique McDonell, Author, Self-publisher and all-’round lovely person

Today I am delighted to introduce Monique McDonell, another author I have had the pleasure of meeting through the Romance Writers of Australia.

Monique writes charming, cheering chick-lit and contemporary romance and is currently celebrating the release of her second novel, Hearts Afire.

Hearts Afire contains, apparently, a jilted bride, a sexy fireman, a tropical island, a fear of the ocean, a fear of commitment, a new neighbour, an old flame and a secret identity – which sounds like excellent value for money! 😉  I haven’t read this one yet (it’s on the Kindle TBR pile) but I did read her first one, Mr Right and other Mongrels and liked it a lot.  It’s perfect curl-up-on-the-couch or take-to-the-beach reading; characters you like, situations you can identify with and just enough trouble to make it fun.  I like a gritty crime novel as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s nice to forget about man’s inhumanity to man and escape into a story.  Monique’s books are great for that.

But this post is not just about the contents of her books, lovely though they are.  Monique has produced both of these titles herself and as a newly published author (with a traditional publisher, although a new digital imprint of that publisher), I’m very interested in the process of self-publishing.  I thought you might be interested too and since she’s a lovely person, Monique was kind enough to answer my questions.  So here we go; interview time!

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