Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Interview with an Author - No. 1 - Gill Sims

Author Bio
Gill Sims is the author and illustrator of the hugely successful parenting blog and Facebook site ‘Peter and Jane’. She lives in Scotland with her husband, two children and a recalcitrant rescue Border Terrier, who rules the house.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Interview with an Author - Introduction to author interviews

Hey blog fans,
I have some very exciting news for you. Scooch closer...

I'm running an 'Interview with an...Author' (please note, not vampire) πŸ˜‰

Over the next week and a half(ish), instead of the almost-weekly posts, you'll see DAILY interviews. Eep!
Somewhere, lurking at the very bottom of this page, is an option to 'follow blog by email' - feel free to sign up so you don't miss a single one. Or I think following me on Google+ works too - not quite sure (I'm not THAT tech savvy!?).

Honestly, there's some VERY exciting authors waiting to meet you.

All kinds of authors are covered; traditionally published, indies and even hybrids.
The purpose?
~ Well, to introduce you to some wonderful writers
~ To remind everyone that ALL authors need your love/reading eyes
Writers - we are one! We are all on the same 'author ship' together. And we'll get to our destination faster if we all pull together (*heave, heave*).
Readers - we all love you all. Truly, we do.

Mutual support, respect and love πŸ’—
Because, as HH Dalai Lama says "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."

So, tune in tomorrow for author number one, please.

Always in love & light,

Thursday, 4 October 2018

REVIEW - Coordinates of Loss - get lost in grief

Date read: 4th October 2018

My rating: 4.5*

Genre I reckon: Women's fiction > grief

Buy link: Amazon

Can I really say I enjoyed a book so immersed in the deepest grief?
I'm struggling to come up with the right word to use.
Rachel and James suffer from a grief nobody should ever have to endure; the loss of a child.
And it is brutal. Amanda Prowse doesn't hold back. You feel the full force of this devastating agony as it rips through the couple's lives.

There's some wonderful, rich characters along the way. And some twists and turns as Rachel, more than most, battles to come to terms with what happened in the first few pages. Cee-Cee in particular is beautiful.

I cried! I'm not ashamed to admit it. It may be impossible not to.

If you are grieving and want to know you're not alone, this book may serve your purpose.

Everyone deals with grief in their own way, and that's OK.

Yes, I "enjoyed" this book, and would recommend to a friend.

It matches my bathroom decor & everythin'!

Thursday, 27 September 2018

You've Written a Book - Now What? - a checklist for authors

If you've written a book - congratulations!
So many "have a book inside them" and they just "think about writing one", but few get this far. So give yourself a pat on the back.

But now the real work begins!

1) Edit!!!
Hopefully, you've written draft one and have gone over it at least once.
But it is incredibly difficult to edit your own work - your brain knows what you meant to write.
So, hire an editor and a proof reader or copy editor - seriously!

2) ARC readers
Field test your book! ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) readers are incredibly helpful.
There may still be bits you need to think about.
Incidentally, beta readers are a good idea once you've finished draft 1, in case there's big changes which need to be made in the early stages.

3) Blurb
I've written an article to help guide you through this most despised task.
It's a very different skill set, and worthy of your time & considertaion.

4) Cover
Your cover needs to be awesome. People can tell if it's not professional, and will deter some of your potential readers.
This is one of your main points of contact; your first chance to make a good impression.
They are truly worth their weight in gold.
Personally, I use the fine service of Robin Ludwig, but obviously, choose one who you feel best.

5) Publish
Once you have a fabulous, well-polished product, it's time to publish.
Whether this is via a traditional publisher or yourself is up to you.
A traditional publisher will help you with the editing and cover. NEVER pay a publisher; they should pay you!
My pros and cons of both options are in this handy blog post.

If you decide to publish yourself, are you going to use Amazon KDP?
They hold the market share, so yes, you should.
But they have KDP Select, which means your book is free in Kindle Unlimited BUT limits you to Amazon only.
There's another post about KU vs wide distribution here.

You'll need to create your KDP account.
Also, if you're distributing your book as a paperback as well as ebook, you'll want to consider purchasing your own ISBN number.

OK, so upload your book. I've still not written a post on the KDP process, but you will need to decide which categories (genres) your book goes into and the keywords.
Keywords are the words readers type into their search to bring up a selection of books e.g. billionnaire romance.
Now, certain keywords will open up different, hidden categories.
e.g. the keyword 'witch' will get you into Romance>Paranormal>Witches
A list of these keywords is on the Amazon KDP website.

You will also need to decide on pricing. This needs some research, and depends on the length of your book, amongst other factors.

6) Reviews
Hopefully, you got some ARC readers lined up from step 2.
But if you haven't, it's not too late.
There are websites such as The Indie View who list reviewers, along with the genres they read and website where you'll find their review policy, if they're accepting requests and how to submit them.

7) Promotion
Now, you need to tell the world!!!
Write to your local paper; is there something special that makes it stand out that a newspaper will want to talk about?
Who's your target market? Where do they hang out? Get to know them, mingle (online).
Is there a book club near you that would like to read your book?
Who are the 'influencers' in your genre? Can you grab their attention.
Befriend other authors, especially the more successful ones ;) Hey, they're nice people, they may lend you understanding if nothing else.

8) Advertise
(like promotion, but bear with)
Two of the most important ones I've discovered that work for me:

i) AMS ads (Amazon Marketing Services)
This is located under your KDP account, under 'ad campaigns', 'view your ads dashboard page'.
This is not an easy process. It's worth taking time to study it.
Dave Chesson does a free course, accessed via his YouTube video - he takes you through the long way, but obviously, there is the option of purchasing his Rocket software (but don't feel obliged).

ii) Facebook ads
NOT the boosted posts! No!
Under the top right dropdown list on Facebook you'll find a "create ad" option.
If you've taken the time to learn AMS ads, this is a whole lot easier; it's a similar process.

Plus iii) Bookbub
I've STILL not managed to bag myself a 'Featured Ad' deal - they're like gold dust!
BUT I am told that they're really worth their high price tag. You should at least make back the cost of the ad (but don't blame me if you don't).
It's definitely worth creating an account on their site. More and more people are starting to use this for reviews as Amazon make it harder to do so. And there's lots and lots of readers on there.
They also let you run your own ads (similar again to AMS) and there's pre-release options too.

9) Launch
Have a fb launch party if you want - I've not ever achieved many sales, but have made new author and reader friends there.
Plaster your release day across your social media.

Then 10) Pray...
to whatever deity you are affiliated with! ;)
Because, at the end of the day, it's all luck.
Be in the right place at the right time and your book will get noticed by the right people.

Oh, and secret option 11) Panic 😱
Yep - most of us go through this, especially when the book's with ARC readers.
It goes something like, "My book is awesome, I'm really excited. Shit, but what if it's not? And readers hate it? This could end my career before it's begun. What have I done? Oh dear God, I suck so bad! Why did I do this? Whyyyyy?" 😱
*Please note that this may be slotted in at any step, and often repeated.

This always leads to 12) What was I worried about? 😏
Please, during 'Panic' do remember that you do not suck. That you WILL get through this. Just keep going. Chocolate and/or alcohol is very handy to have in stock to assist the alleviation of 'Panic'.
- This is also another VERY good reason to make friends with other authors. When 'Panic' is reached, message one (or several) authors, who will understand and offer you reassuring virtual pats on the head and soft words of understanding.
*Don't forget to breathe!

So, I leave you, wishing you very good luck.
You got this!

Always in love & light,

Monday, 10 September 2018

How to Write the Blurb?

Argh! The blurb, the blurb! 😬
Many a meme and cry of despair has gone up on The Internet from so many writers.

A novel, generally accepted at 50,000 words; we can write that many, so why is writing 150 so hard?
Well, the very small number of words is the crux of the problem, isn't it?

The task:
Write a short summary of your wonderful book, in just a few words, giving lots of enticing information, but without giving away the plot. 
How do you give information but not??
It can seem like an impossible feat. It becomes daunting and scary, and many of us have quivered in the corner, holding our empty coffee cup, worrying over it.
"Just  few words. I can't even write a few words. All those other words in the book must be crap if I can't even write a few words." (this may or may not be a direct quote of myself)

As always, I state openly - I AM NOT AN EXPERT
I am just sharing what I've learned so far. 

Before we start, the term a lot of people use is "book description". 
Many will argue it is not technically a blurb. 
But dictionaries list a blurb as:
"A short description of a book, film, or other product written for promotional purposes."
- the blurb on the back of the book will touch your heart. 

This is what we're talking about here; the bit on the 'cover' of the book, telling readers what your book is about. 
I'm a fiction writer, so that's what I'll be discussing here. It's a slightly different approach for non-fiction.

Point 1: 
This is a very different writing skill to the one you've used to write the book itself. 
So, please relax. Take a breath. 
You just need to learn a new writing style/approach. 

Point 2:
You are NOT trying to summarise the entire book. 
Please don't explain the entire thing. Your readers want to discover that for themselves.
Hint at the story. You only have 150-200 words to do this in. 

Drop in main points:
i) a situation  ii) a problem iii) a twist iv) the mood
What is the primary conflict of your story? 
What's at stake? 

Point 3: 
Your first line is your hook, and should be no longer than 6 words. 
Advertisers will call this a strap line, or perhaps a USP. It's your click bait.
You can use bold/italic text to really make it zing (using html).

What is it about your book that makes it unique? 

Short & snappy,. You have about 2 seconds to get your potential reader's attention. 
Create intrigue. Introduce your character (especially if your target market is female). 

I'm using someone else's research here; but I've seen it said that women are character driven, men are plot driven. A general rule of thumb used by marketing peeps. 

e.g. Love Bites (which I had lots of blurb help for)
Shakira didn’t fit in.
- introduces Shakira. Why didn't she fit in? Reader hopefully wants to read more blurb. 

You have about this much space that readers will see in Amazon before they need to click 'read more': 

Point 4: 
Use your voice.
You have written your book in your own style. Your blurb should reflect this too. 
Don't get so bogged down by blurb rules that you then lose the tone of your novel. 
This is you selling your book, telling readers why they want to read it.

Point 5: 
Don't be afraid of hyperbole. But avoid clichΓ©s. 
Having been so cautious in your book, it can feel odd to over-emphasise in your description.
But your book needs to be advertised. Maybe there's an "incredible" event in your tale? Or a "never before" character? 
Be flamboyant. Yes, I know you're an author. Yes, I know you're probably an introvert. But this is part of our challenge when writing the blurb. 
Exaggerate and emphasise your book's highlights. 

Point 6:
Know your keywords.
If you're going to be using AMS advertising and/or Facebook ads, their algorithms will seek out your keywords, so include some naturally in your blurb. But don't ram them in. They need to be part of it, not stand out like sore thumbs. 

Point 7: 
End on a cliffhanger - the reader now knows what your book is about. What is it that will make them click 'buy' and read? They have to find out more! Have a call to action. 

Point 8:
Do check the best sellers in your genre. 
What have they done? Does their blurb make you want to read their book? 
Be inspired.

My PNR (paranormal romance), Love Bites - example blurb 

Shakira didn’t fit in.

The reason why is tragic…

…but the solution is unbelievable.

Moving to Wales was a chance at a new start, a quest for somewhere to belong. Things don’t always go as planned. First it was the dreams. Why was she drawn to the forest? 
And who are the strange beings with glowing cat-like eyes?

Then she meets him.

Can one kiss magically change her life?

Can she become the peacemaker she was meant to be?

You’ll love this paranormal romance because everyone loves a story of triumph with witches, faeries and dragons.

Get it now. 
“Action packed paranormal. Highly recommended.” ~ Susan ★★★★★

“A magical extravaganza. I absolutely loved Love Bites. Pryderi is all sorts of fascinating.” ~ Beckie Bookworm ★★★★★

“Magnificent. Clark’s design and development of characters, including a new and unique species of creatures, and of rich and varied settings, is elegant and complex.” ~ MapleLeafAussie ★★★★★

“Love Bites is a powerful, imaginative fantasy that swept me off my feet from the very beginning.” ~ Daccari Buchelli ★★★★★

NB This is part 1 of a duology
This book is suitable for over 18s due to mature content.
May not be suitable for vegetarians.

OK, that's it for this post.
I really hope it's helpful.

Like I said, I'm not an expert. I'm still learning too.
There's some great groups online (try Facebook or Goodreads) who will help with blurbs, but be open to critique. 

Always in love & light,

Don't forget to check out my books on Amazon and all other good online stores

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Which is best - paperback or Kindle / ebooks?

This blog post is being written at the request of Melanie on my Facebook author page
But it is a question so often asked across all social media I'm surprised I've not actually written about it here before.

So, do you prefer ebooks or hard copies (paperback or hardback)?
Each has pros and cons...

Let us begin with ebooks:

Very portable - can take hundreds of books anywhere in one light device
Ebooks tend to be cheaper as there's lower production costs
Perhaps a greater variety - most indie authors tend to try out books in this format first
Can be read in most light conditions - Many have adjustable backlights & anti-glare screens
Discretion - nobody can tell what you're reading
Easily downloads - no waiting, download and read

The initial device can be costly
Battery which needs to be recharged sometimes
You don't get to see the pretty book cover after purchase
Doesn't have the classic smell and feel of a book


That smell! Is there anything quite like it?
The feel - you pick it up and leaf through the pages, a physical connection
Can be displayed proudly on your bookshelf 
Secondhand bookshops can be a treasure trove, you excitedly search through

Usually more expensive
Widely available paperbacks tend to be offered by mainstream authors; limiting your choice
People can see what you're reading
Weighty - if you want to take some on holiday, they take up space and weight in your luggage


Prestige - let's face it, they are good for showing off with
Look even better on your bookshelf

Very expensive
Quite cumbersome to read

Now, it could be argued that paper degrades over time. You may lose your precious book to mites and dust, particularly if you have an old hardback.

However, although ebooks have an online store, where they may be deemed safer, what happens in the event of an EMP type thing? If all our electronics are suddenly wiped out, what happens to these precious tomes?

But paper can be burned. Civilisations have almost been lost to history in hostile times. House fires have claimed libraries and books.

So, is it better not to put all your eggs in one basket?
Perhaps a little of both is really for the best?

And at the end of the day, is the most important thing not just that you read?
All books have the magick ability of transporting you away from modern life and into a whole new world.
Let us not quibble over one way or another. Let's just pick up whichever type of book we most cherish, and read.

Do feel free to state your preference and reasons in the comments. It's always good to have friendly discussion.

Always in love & light,

By the way, my latest book will be available in both paperback and ebook.
Available for pre-order now from Amazon , all good online stores , Waterstones and Barnes&Noble

Thursday, 23 August 2018

REVIEW - Catnip - it's addictive!

Date read: 23rd August 2018

My rating: 5*

Genre I reckon: YA sci-fi fantasy (with a little romance)

Buy link: Amazon

Well, what a fabulous book!
This has been on my TBR for ages, and I've been anxious to read it. 

Just look at this cover. Now try to stop. No, I can't either! 

Whilst weaving a 'tail' of science and madness, JS Frankel also raises some poignant questions. How far should one go with scientific research, for example. 

The cat-girl is incredible, her journey no less so.
Anastasia with amnesia; lol

I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers.
But transgenics is the theme, with a slight love story running alongside. Plenty of action, and the men in black suits.

Really well written; give it a go, you won't be sorry.
And when you do fall in love, there's more to find, as this is but the first in a whole series. Yay!