Finished Upgrading?

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Finally, I am happy with the first three books in my #Lives series.

They have been re-edited, polished and re-covered…. and now I can move on.

PayBack, my current WIP, is well under way and already has a pretty good cover. I just need to settle down and finish it.

I’m off to update my book page!

Too Many Irons…

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Have you ever had the feeling that you have bitten off more than you can chew?

Well, right now I seem to have a mouthful!

I have just finished re-editing my first book, Nine Lives. This was after making the mistake of actually opening the book and reading a few pages. After I got over the shock of seeing how bad it was, I realised it needs either a major new edit or bin it. That wasn’t really an option, so I spent a couple of weeks going over it with a fine-toothed comb.

It now has a brand new cover and is republished on Amazon.

I have to finish the formatting for the paperback version, then I will have restored the status quo for this book at least. I will be repeating this process for my other two books, for they might need an overhaul too!

At the same time, I have been busy editing our holiday memoir, Lazy Days, getting it ready for publication. We wanted to enter it with Kindlescout but they don’t accept novellas.

If you remember, we entered in 2015 with Let it Go….. and I thought it did well. It didn’t win, but I enjoyed the exciting process!

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Now, what else have we been doing?

Oh yes, we have announced a book tour for Lazy Days in January 2018. The 8th to the 12th, if anyone wants to take part!

We will be taking part in Lizzie Chantree’s book tour in January for Ninja School Mum, and I am reviewing Sacha Black’s book Keepers for Rosie Ambers review team.

Seriously thinking of making some new book trailers too and I have been trying to make sense of my writing/ blogging bible. Over the years, so much information has been added, changed or deleted; it’s a bit of a mess. So I bought myself a new book to transcribe all the valuable stuff into. This undertaking might be the straw that breaks this camel’s back as I can’t make sense of my scribble. Why on earth did I let get it into such a mess in the first place?

What else?

Oh yes, we are planning a massive promotion for Anita’s book, Let it Go, starting with a Kindle promo next week. For some reason, we have neglected this book and this won’t do at all. So you have been warned!

 

Although we are very busy at the moment, I haven’t been able to do much work on PayBack, my new WIP, and not happy about that at all. But I am discovering that there is only so much you can get an ageing brain to cope with, unfortunately.

It occurs to me that doing one thing at a time sounds like a better idea, but how can you, when there is so much you want to do?

Best Day of All…

I’m not sure if this is something authors do, but I am so chuffed, I have to share this with everyone!

Emma Powell, from The Review2014.blogspot.com is reviewing my mystery thriller trilogy, and the first one has blown my mind!

Here we go…

 

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If you enjoy the crime mystery thriller genre, then this will most definitely  be a good read  for  you,  – even  if one of the opening viewpoints is from the Voice inside the head of the  protagonist!   Confused?  You won’t be …

The story is cleverly written in the sense the author has achieved something different.  Not easy to do these days but a joy to discover when you find it.  The whole book keeps the protagonist – hereafter called Kate   – centre stage whilst keeping the tension, the what-the-hell-happens-next  thread, going from beginning to end.

 There is the Voice inside Kate’s head that is her instinct, her sub-conscious speaking  to  her to the point where the reader begins to wonder if Kate has mental health issues.  Actually, it doesn’t take long  to realise we’ve all got that Voice rattling around in our  consciousness at some point or other and this leads onto the reader  being in Kate’s head; her emotions become your emotions, her fears are palpable. 

The antagonist, Jack, is Kate’s ex-husband  and pure evil.   He makes his  entry early (Chapter Two) and really gave me the creeps.  Not only does Kate have health issues (the story opens with her having a   heart attack),  but also has serial killer issues  with Jack – he’s hiding in the hospital Kate is taken to.  Nine lives indeed.  By the end of Chapter Two, you maybe asking yourself how the tension can last until the end, but it does.  Especially when the few  close people around her start  to be murdered …

The violence is minimal and ingeniously written.  There is some descriptive writing, obviously for the genre, but it is not over-gratuitous and brings out the empathy for Kate as well as those around her.  The following is from a scene where Jack had realised one of Kate’s neighbours had noticed him hanging around and he managed to get into the neighbour’s flat:

 “He closed his eyes and lifted her head away from the blue patterned lino.  Her hands were clutching desperately at his sleeves, fluttering like baby bird’s wings.  He thought of Kate and how much he missed her; the familiar mist seeped into his brain as he pounded the old woman’s head against the floor repeatedly until her eyes closed and she stopped breathing. He left her lying there and went back to his van.”

And there you have it.  The author keeps the mystery, the thrill right up there, weaving in and out of every word you read.  The characters that are vital to Kate’s story come to your attention so subtlety until suddenly, you wonder how they got there.  And how long they may last!

Whilst I felt the conclusion to The Ninth Life ended a tad too soon – I would have enjoyed a more drawn-out scene for the climax  – this does not deviate from the overall enjoyment of the book.   And besides, Kate’s story is a trilogy, thankfully. Book Two – The Last Life – picks  up and carries yet another tension-riddled read around Kate and her struggles.  Watch out for the review of  The Last  Life in the not-too-distant-future.

As soon as I’ve completed Book 3 of the Trilogy, The Broken Life, I’ll be posting about that too.

Look out for an Author Interview on the Blog with Jaye Marie shortly!

http://thereview2014.blogspot.com/2016/12/emma-reviews-ninth-life.html?spref=tw

 

I may not come down to earth until after Christmas!

 

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Interview With My Conscience…

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It was another Monday morning and I was asking myself the same old question. Why do I  bother with any of it? Anything that could possibly go wrong, usually does, and it was getting a bit wearing. Then my inner voice decided to join in the conversation.

Everyone feels like this sometimes, you are not unique you know…

Yes, I know we all have days when we think everything conspires against us, and life seems futile. Doesn’t help though.

You sound like a drama queen, one who is prone to over exaggeration…

I don’t think I have imagined the succession of near disasters that have played havoc with my life this year?

Okay, I will admit there have been one or two, but nothing to write home about…

How about my inability to successfully market anything. You have to admit I am hopeless?

Could be you’re just not smart enough, for it’s not exactly rocket science…

I can buy that one, for the results of my efforts speak for themselves.

You seem to be forgetting that you are OLD. That feeling of circling the drain is quite normal at your age you know…

There are days when I would agree, but others when I still feel competent enough for the job in hand.

But which of these days are the real ones, and not the ones that are the result of your own stupidity?

I know I have a few shortcomings, but there are also circumstances that are beyond my control.

Beyond your mental capacity, you mean…

A fine Jiminy Cricket you turned out to be, where is all the optimism, the encouragement?

I can only work with the material I have at my disposal. It’s not my fault if your grey matter isn’t up to scratch…

You know, all of this could be academic if my health gets any worse. I’m sure you have to agree that I am not imagining that?

I know it does all seem very real, but you have beaten the odds before, and will do again, I’m sure…

So, you would conduct my life differently, would you? You are coming across as a smug know-it-all, but you don’t drop any hints any more, do you? Isn’t that supposed to be part of your remit?

After a lifetime of trying my best for you, literally thousands of hints later, I have run out of ideas.  Banging my head against a wall is definitely not my scene…

So I am on my own now, you are retiring?

You still have your instincts, even though they malfunction far too often. It has brought you this far, however…

~~~~~~~~~~~

“Some of us get to choose how we live our lives, whether to depend on our conscience, or wing it with instinct.

Heaven knows which is best, and I think it also knows what will happen to us.  I could do with a ‘heads up’ round about now…”

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A Huge Thankyou!

 

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I just had to share the latest surprise to come from our attempts to spread the word about our books. We have run KDP promotions before with varying degrees of success, for instance, Anita’s book Secrets had 37 uptakes which I thought was pretty good, considering we are beginners after all.

The Ninth Life is due to leave Kindle Select soon, as I wanted to put it on Smashwords to see if it did any better. So before that happened, I did one final promotion on Kindle Select.

And it got 149 uptakes…

This post came about because I wanted to try and thank everyone who picked up a copy. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading The Ninth Life, and if you do, to remind you that a short and simple review on Amazon from you would be wonderful. The fact that I will love you forever is not designed to influence you in any way at all!

 

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#PoweredByIndie

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Amazon are running a promotion this October called PoweredByIndie. Basically to celebrate authors who self publish with them. They are highlighting as many as they can, but suggest we all blow a few trumpets too. This we can do, because we like blowing trumpets, and have learned more as an Indie than as anything else.

 

When I think back to how our lives used to be, long before the days of self-publishing, I am totally amazed at how far we have come.

For more than five long years, we had tried our hardest to get one of the big mainstream publishers to show an interest in one of our books, but the results were always the same. It was ‘sorry, try again later…’ or ‘sorry, but good luck for the future…’

Sometimes, we had been encouraged to hope for more than that, when they had actually requested the full copy of the book to read, but it never got any better than that. At one point, we managed to get an agent, a very respectable London firm, who thought our books were eminently publishable. They tried hard to create some interest, but the results were the same.

Just when it all seemed hopeless, the Indie publishing revolution arrived!

The more we read about it, the more intrigued we became. We could do this!

It has been a long journey and the learning curve even longer, but we are now fully-fledged Indie authors with eight books to our name. The experience has been frustrating at times, yet very rewarding.

The Indie system continues to encourage and inspire us, and had led to even more connected adventures. Becoming Indie authors was definitely one of our better decisions…

Serious Editing, my style… part one

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Most writers are not particularly keen on editing their work, and this is the wrong way to start. It took me a long time to learn to love editing, but when you do, it makes the process fun (and effective!)

Understandable really, for by the time you have spent several weeks’ months ripping plots and storylines out of your heart and soul, thousands of words and all those emotions and tension later, the last thing you feel like doing is actually looking at it again.

Mind you, most of us approach it in the wrong way, with a totally wrong mind set. I know all about this, for I have to live with a wonky mind set!

I have discovered that if you make editing a proper job, dare I say discipline, it makes it easier. But before you do anything, you must put it away in a drawer and forget it for at least two weeks. More, if you can. I always underestimated the value of doing this, for no matter how long you waited; you would still be in the zone, immune to all your errors, wouldn’t you?  But it does help. Not sure how, but it does.

First Thing: 

Decide how much you will do everyday. And be realistic, make it achievable. If you decide on one hour, that’s fine. If you stick to the plan religiously, you will get there in no time AND feel better about the whole business. You will need your chapter breakdown handy, something you should have already?

Second Thing:

Decide where you will work, and this is more important than you think. In the early days, I found myself trying to edit on my lap, or squashed in front of my computer. Worst of  all, is trying to edit in the same room as the television.

You need space and a lot of peace and quiet to successfully edit. And forget about editing on the computer. You will drive yourself insane and possibly make some serious irretrievable errors. Again, I know this because…

Third Thing:

I find the best way to edit is with a paperback copy, but as this isn’t always convenient, I print out the MS, using large print and double spacing.  If, like me, you tend to give your characters their own chapters, edit them separately. This is a brilliant way to know if you have done them justice, with no lapses in their lifestyle or heaven forbid, important details like their names.

This first read-through is to make sure the story runs smoothly, no gaping plot holes or lack of continuation. Don’t set out to look for weak words, typos or appalling grammar at this stage. That will follow, once the nuts and bolts are all there and done up tight.

Finally:

Make all the necessary alterations on your file copy. I never used to do this, thinking I could do remember to do it all at the end. I made this mistake several times before I learned my lesson. Never put off anything, for that’s how things get missed. Again, I know this because…

 

Next week, I will be writing about round two, when the serious editing will begin…  (yes, I can do serious too…)

Reasons to Continue…

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I am beginning to think that becoming a successful author must be as difficult as winning the lottery. Either that or you have to be born lucky.

On my quest for a brilliant book and perfect cover, I have had to stretch my brain quite a lot. Not for the writing, that’s the easy bit, but all the rest of it. All that hunting for the right cover image, not to mention the marketing and promotion.

All of this of course, involves that demonically possessed box of tricks on my desk. You probably call yours a computer, but I am not so polite!

That thing that crashes or freezes at just the wrong moment, usually when I have spent what seems like hours trying to do something, only to lose it. That place where all knowledge lies, IF you manage to find it and have the kind of brain that can first decipher and absorb most of it.

I am not computer literate, but I do enjoy a challenge. The fact that I have managed to learn so much is testament to my stubborn streak and unending patience, remarkably well demonstrated by my latest endeavours.

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So, back to the one problem I cannot seem to resolve, which is manipulating images to come up with new and exciting covers and pictures for the blog.

I had read somewhere that removing boring backgrounds and substituting better ones was easy, even without Photoshop and I was determined to learn how.

I spent more time than I could spare, watching endless demo’s and tutorials, only to try it for myself and fail miserably, cursing my brains inability to understand what must be simple for most people.

I gave up for a while, admitting defeat and resigning myself (and my books and blog) to mediocre images. However, the bit was still between my teeth. I had to learn how to do it, somehow there had to be a way. YouTube is a wonderful place for learning how to do almost anything your heart desires, and it really is amazing what you can find when you look.

While I was browsing, getting annoyed that all I could find were Photoshop posts, I suddenly realised that the word PowerPoint sounded familiar, so I investigated. Sure enough, it was included in the Word software I have on my PC. I discovered I could remove the background of any image that I had, and it was sooo easy.

So who needs Photoshop anyway? I hear it is expensive and complicated, so that rather excludes me. I try to stay away from things like that.

Who am I kidding?

Since then, I discovered Canva and Picmonkey, both brilliant sites for mucking about with all those images, and managed to learn all about scheduling on Buffer, which is invaluable if you want to be effective on Twitter.

So the beat goes on, and I’m not finished yet, as I suspect I am barely scratching the surface of what I could learn if I try…

Mind Blowing…

 

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There are times when I want to run screaming away from my office and everything in it.

Yes, it was one of those days when I had come up against the proverbial last straw and just knew I couldn’t take any more setbacks.

This post is hard for me to write, because I am one of the most stubborn persons on the planet. I rarely give up or give in, but I have come really close this week.

Even though, when I think of all the things I use every day, I am undeniably proud of my progress. For a dyed in the wool technophobe, I amaze myself sometimes.

With one exception.

I seem to be developing a phobia about book covers. Quite apart from the trouble of choosing the right one in the beginning, I keep changing my mind. And if you have ever had to change one of your book covers on Amazon or Goodreads, you will know what it entails. Unless the trouble I encounter is down to me again, of course.

 

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Last week, after finally deciding which covers I wanted to use, I uploaded them on Amazon. I have done this before and usually after a day or two, the new cover will show up. But not this time though.  So a swift email was sent to ask why.

Changing your covers on Goodreads is another kettle of fish all together. I know how you are supposed to do it, but their site is so complicated, I find it quicker to ask one of their regulators to do it.

I was almost getting a handle on all of it, only to discover both of the book links were broken.  Same books, but…

All of this has gone a long way to convince me never to change my mind again, a necessary step to salvage what’s left of my sanity. And, quite apart from anything else, I have better uses of my time…

 

You Never Know…

 

 

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(The tree of souls, from the film Avatar…)

I never knew this blog would turn out to be a very important part of my little writing kingdom, when I first decided to see if I could create one. Everyone said at the time that as the blog improved, so would I.

That you must treat it like a child, feed it and nourish it, even learn to love it, and it will make you a better writer, if not a better person.
What it has given me is confidence.

It has also provided some much needed discipline, for although it is only a ‘blog’ it is governed by the same rules as any other writing. The content should be the very best you can do, none of that ‘oh, that will do’ attitude.

I have learned far more about writing since creating this blog and reading other people’s.
Those who haven’t tried it don’t have a clue and tend to dismiss them as harmless time wasting.
That could not be further from the truth.
People will not fall over themselves to read what you write, whether it is a letter, blog or full-length novel unless you are well known and/or famous. You have to create a written magnet, one that will attract attention. One that people will love to discover and keep coming back to.

In the years I have been building this blog, I have discovered many such magnets and they are as good as reading a book. My day would not be complete without these ‘mini reads’!
I have always been of the opinion that if you want to learn how to do something, study those who have already learned and succeeded, for you will discover that they have risen to the challenge and not been found wanting. Some of them will even tell you the right way to go about it!

This is how I learned to cook, knit, wallpaper a wall and even change the carburettor in an old Triumph car. Not to mention all my craft projects. My theory is, if someone made it in the first place you can have a go too. It’s not really rocket science, but the important thing to remember is the quality of your achievement. None of my first attempts were any good, but if you are stubborn like me, it helps a lot and eventually you will manage something you are happy with.
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The little tree in this photograph was my rendition of the ‘Tree of Souls’ from the film Avatar. It took a month to make and involved thousands of tiny pearl beads!

Despite all my other interests, I have always wanted to be a writer. I enjoyed English at school and ideas for stories have surfaced from time to time over the years, but overall I was much too busy trying to live my life without too much heartache, and failing miserably.

But I am retired now and the misery has moved on. I can finally find out if I am any good as a writer. (or not!)
And this blog (and others like it) will be my benchmark.
I have now self-published two mystery thriller books, and editing the third. Reasonably happy with my progress, although to be honest, I never expected it to be so hard. Not the writing you understand, but everything else you have to do has added years to my life!

My sister Anita has really gone up in my admiration; she must be a genius, for she has completed six really good novels. But then she does have  a brilliant editor (me!)

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