Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Is The End. My Only Friend, The End

Nearly there now.  Almost over.  Crazy year indeed.  I feel like I've wasted a lot of time this year but when I think about it - a lot happened.  I can't talk about everything but here's a summary.

Things that changed in 2010:

DTP finally welcomed the world outside the U.S. with open arms.  Back in January, I had no idea I would publish ebooks.  Absolutely none.  I'm not entirely sure where the idea sprang from, only that it began as an experiment.  In March, I published a collection of dark flash fiction and have been astounded at the reactions to it.  Most of the reviews are either 5 or 1 star and the collection has sold way more than I ever expected (mostly because of some cool people on Kindleboards and the Amazon forums who decided to take a chance on a newbie and even recommend her to a friend).  Some wondered what kind of evil person could write such stories but today, those stories were mentioned on Red Adept's Annual Indie Awards.  Not bad for an unknown Irish girl who went into this not having a plan - or a clue. 

I've learned a lot.  More than I could have ever imagined.  More than I would have if I decided 2010 would be the year of the query rather than the year of the indie.  It has been worth it just for the learning process.  I has new skillz.  This year was an experiment but it's been so much fun, so encouraging, that I'm not stopping yet. I'll never be the kind of writer who gets fan mail and earns frequent cheques but I'll be a crazy happy one and that's good enough for me. 

I've made friends and enemies.  This makes me laugh, actually.  When I say I've made friends, it's more of the distant kind - I'm not exactly chummy by nature.  Sadly, some of the people I've liked the best have disappeared for a while.  I hope they (PW/B, I'm looking you) return soon because they made me feel . . . welcome, even when some fellow writers were a bit shitty.  They made me feel like I wasn't going mad when it seemed like I was the only one going against the tide.  They were lovely to me despite me being a new indie in a place indies behaved badly.  I've made (and this sound ridiculous) enemies because I've been open about my opinions on certain behaviours that I think are, well, fuckwittery.  I still do but I'm less likely to go on about it.  I'll just look down from my high moral ground and watch people take all the rope they need.  :P *Bad Claire, Bad!*

I had a baby.  Again.  Last baby.  Sad times.  She's five months now and humongous.  She never seemed like a newborn.  Keeping a writing routine going has been hard this year but it's been worth trying.  The biggest change is that my family feels complete.  I'm sad I won't have another newborn but, for many reasons, we're done.  Really hope I'm not jinxing myself here.  :D  My older daughter started playschool, my eldest no longer needs speech therapy & physio and the twins started walking, talking and causing mayhem this year.  The baby seems to have brought something new out of my other children - they all love her and are getting along pretty well.  Harmony is difficult for a family of seven but in 2010, we seem to have cracked it.  So, family hasn't suffered this year, despite my writing insanity.

Things that haven't changed in 2010:

I still love books, music and writing.  Obsessively so, sometimes.  Purple is still my favourite shade of nail varnish but this year I favoured a purple grey so maybe I'm maturing.  ;)  Still obsessed with eyeliner.  Lush still make my favourite bubbles and shampoo.  Inis is still my favourite perfume.  I'm still broke.  I still can't walk in heels.  I'm still phobic and anxious and have a great hatred/fear of clowns and bellybuttons.

People still take me too seriously, especially when I'm joking, which makes it all the funnier.  I'm still a wind-up merchant, still childish - I live in a house where farting is side-splittingly funny so give me a break, they all think I'm a dry shite.  I still swear like a . . . Dub.  :D

Family is still the most important thing to me.  Always will be.  The End.

2010 hasn't been a good year for most people I know so I'm hoping that, next year, they find the same level of optimism and excitement I'm barely containing right now.  Seriously, 2010 was pretty rocking, all things considered.  Here's to 2011 - go on, top 2010, I double-dog-dare ya.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ROW80 - Round One Writing Goals

It's time to list my goals for A Round of Words in 80 Days.  I've been thinking a lot about what needs to be done next year and what I'm capable of producing.  NaNoWriMo was a bit of a struggle this year and I've had some new ideas for the rough (oh, so rough) draft I wrote.  I need to get my y/a novel out of my way this year - seriously, it's been hanging around for way too long, I have to get it working or dump it.  I'd like to fully plot the third book in my Ava Delaney series.  Short stories are a minor priority.  To follow are my ROW80 goals:

Major Goals

  • Write 500 words a day, Monday to Friday (at least)
  • Write 2,500 words a week (at least)
  • Edit the y/a novel (without clawing my eyes out)
  • Write one short story a month
  • Replot Taunt
  • Rewrite first draft of Taunt

Minor Goals (if major goals are completed)

  • Plot Tempt
  • Plot sequel to y/a
  • Begin first draft of Tempt
  • Finish first draft of fae novel
It's the first round, I'm not sure what I can do in that time but I like having a plan.  My priority for 2011 is to write as much as possible.  I would love to complete a number of first drafts before I go into the editing stages of Taunt.  I'm not aiming to publish anything until the end of the year but if I can manage it, I will have something out there sooner.  At the very least, by the end of Round One, I'll have a better idea of what I'm capable of.

If you would like to check out other people's (less waffley) goals then please click here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reading Resolutions 2011

I like hearing about other people's reading resolutions and, because next year is a busy one and might involve forgetting to read, I thought I would establish a few reading resolutions for myself.

I need to pare down my TBR list because it is freaking me out.  I need to stop flitting from one device to another (sony ereader, kindle to pc, android) because I'm leaving a trail of half-read books in my wake.  I keep forgetting what book I'm on and starting another.  I'd like to read some classics because I haven't looked at one (aside from Jane Eyre of course) this year.  Most of all, I want to make sure writing, and all the crap that comes with it, doesn't take up all of my reading time.  Also, I need to chill out on the spending.  I don't really need to buy ten books a week when I already have hundreds that I haven't read yet. 

Reading Resolutions 2011

  • I must read five books (of any length) before I'm allowed to buy one.  (Eek!)
  • I must read at least five classics throughout the year.  (Tolstoy totally counts as a double).
  • I must not have more than three books on the go at once.  (Maybe I should change that to five to fit the theme that seems to have popped up here).
  • I must read for at least five minutes every day.  (Possibly).
  • I must read at least fifty (novel length) books next year.  (I can see a lot of nice, short y/a novels being crammed into next December).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Short Story Collection - Free Copy

I have uploaded a new short story collection.  It isn't live on Amazon yet so (once again) here is a coupon code for a free Smashwords copy.

The book is called Sixty Seconds and the free code is QS89W.

Thirteen pieces of dark flash fiction - some are dark urban fantasy but most are loosely related dark urban fiction stories. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Publetariat - Spare a Dollar

April Hamilton runs Publetariat - a website pretty much dedicated to helping those who wish to self-publish.  There is a lot of useful information on that site and almost everyone who considers going indie finds themselves there.  April's had a tough year, first she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her husband left her (which led to the end of their family run business) and now, the bank is about to foreclose on her mortgage which could leave her and her children homeless.  April posted a plea on Publetariat - if anyone can spare even a dollar, it could help keep her afloat for a bit.

The thing is, if April loses her home then Publetariat will be no more but it is and has been a great resource for us.  If anyone has ever found information, help or advice on Publetariat then please consider pitching in - be it donations or spreading the word.  April Hamilton has made my life easier more than once, that deserves more than a dollar. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two for One Ebook Special & a Ramble

Well, um, my Indie Picks 2010 received quite a bit of unexpected interest.  I made an Amazon list too, if anyone is interested.

Christmas Deals!  Naomi Kramer (author of Dead(ish) and Maisy May series) organised a wee indie sale.  For more info on the two for one ebook special offer, check out the link to the Amazon forums.  She's also setting up a new indie website called Indie Writes so she is a busy lady right now.

A lot of people are talking about Amazon censorship (again) because erotica titles are slowly being removed from Amazon.  More importantly, the books are being deleted from the archives of customers who have bought them.  Bad move, Amazon.  Didn't we hear this record before?  Not sure why they're taking this road but it doesn't look like it's going to have a happy ending.  FYI, I couldn't give a crap what the content is - deleting books from archives without prior warning is idiotic, particularly because it's been done before so Amazon should know better.  I would like to think it's a big misunderstanding - particularly because it's a drastic difference to their recent line of no censorship - but if they're weeding out titles then every writer has something to worry about.  *Waits for the next bombshell.*

In better news, on Friday, my youngest daughter turns five months (woohoo, my lickle-ist chubster) and my first Kindleboards Book of the Day ad will run.  I'm strangely scared.  Also, I've started writing short stories again (picture angelic choirs singing Hallelujah), so that's a huge relief.  It's a nice balance to the fluffy stuff - for my brain, at least.

Ten days to Christmas Eve!  *Feels sick*

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Indie Picks 2010

Inspired by Stacey Benefiel Wallace's post about buying indie as gifts for the holidays, I decided to write about the books I've read this year that have stood out to me.  Now that Amazon are allowing the gifting of ebooks, it's even easier to pass on the gift of indie this holiday season.  ;)  They're all priced between 99c and $2.99 so great value reads.

I'm sure I've forgotten some, and I've enjoyed more than those listed here but, for whatever reason, these are the memorable ones to me.  I haven't read every book I've bought this year yet but I have read a lot.  I don't review and I don't recommend books very often so I think people can be sure that when I say I like something, I mean it.  I'm not nice enough to exaggerate.  LOL. 

Just because a book isn't on the list doesn't mean I disliked it and you may have the opposite opinion to me but these are my standout picks for this year (so far and in no particular order).  I have varied tastes so I hope there might be something for everyone here. 

Sojourner - This is a y/a paranormal series with angels.  I think Sojourner might have been one of the first indie books I read.  I inhaled this book, I really wanted to know what happened next.  To put it into perspective, it's written in first present tense.  I hate first present tense but it did not deter me from this book for a second.  I loved the ending and part of me wishes I hadn't read the other books so I could keep that as the ending.  It has a lot of comparisons to Twilight but there's no creepy stalker vibe so I was fine with any other similarities.  If I had to read either Sojourner or Twilight again, I'd choose Sojourner. 

Burial to Follow - Anyone who knows me at all, knows I'm a big fan of Scott Nicholson.  Burial to Follow may have been my first Nicholson book and I loved it.  It's a supernatural novella but it's completely fresh.  I sat there thinking about it afterwards and going through the storyline with a different eye, once I knew the ending.  Scott's writing is quite lyrical and passionate at times, he brings atmosphere to life.  He gives you a character's whole life and motivations with just a couple of words.  I still think about this one.

Cameo - Cameo is a quirky wee book with more paranormal aspects.  I'm seeing a theme here.  LOL.  I enjoyed Cameo because it isn't something you will find every day. Cameo is an assassin but that isn't all.  She's thrown together with other characters who are similarly not what they first appear to be.  I have no idea how to classify this book and that's why it stands out for me.  I loved that the characters aren't all beautiful creatures who don't make mistakes and do what is best all the time.  I feel like the whole series will lead to a lot of natural growth that I'm keen to see.

Waiting for Spring - This one is about a woman who makes a fresh start after a broken marriage.  There's sex, bad language and a true feeling that the characters are people who could be living next door to you.  When I first heard about this book, I thought, meh, boring.  I got a copy of it anyway and it stayed on my ereader for a while then I randomly selected it while having a bath and OMG, I couldn't stop reading it, the water went cold and I didn't notice.  It's a looooong book and I tried my best to read it all in the one go but I think I had to save some for a second go.  Excellent book.

The Merry-Go-Round - I have to be honest and say I'm not a big of romance novels.  I read this one purely because Donna Fasano is so lovely.  I am glad I did, this book is so sweet.  It begins with a divorce and follows the MC while she tries to figure out dating again, her feelings for her ex and what to do with the Merry-Go-Round she receives in the divorce settlement.  On a deeper level, it's about her emotions and the realisation that she has been angry and bitter to spite herself.  I think maybe I could relate to her motivations and that's why I liked it.

The Second Coming - This is a post-apocalyptic type of fantasy.  It's interesting because it throws an epic fantasy into a modern, yet destroyed setting.  I enjoyed the lore, the twists and was interested to read what happened next - I felt like it was the tip of the iceberg.  There are quite a few gay characters which is refreshing, particularly in this type of genre.

Origin - This was the first Konrath book I read, I downloaded it for free after reading his blog.  A man is brought to an underground facility to try and interpret the speech by a demon who has been held there for many years.  It was asleep and finally woke up.  I loved the premise of this one.  I believe I read a sample and had to know what happened next.  It was pretty exciting and would probably make a great film.

Glimpse - This is a y/a PnR.  I saw this book a number of times before I bought it.  I remember thinking the storyline sounded great and I kept wondering how it could possibly turn out okay then eventually I remembered it while I was on a book buying spree and got my grimey hands on it.  I loved it.  At first, because the teenage couple were just adorable - I mean really, you cannot help thinking how sweet they are.   Then, because the paranormal element was so unpredictable that it was genuinely original.  Lots of kickass female characters too.

Hush Money - I saw this beautiful cover on Smashwords then saw the book being bigged up so bought it.  It's another y/a novel.  It's basically about a bunch of kids who have hidden talents.  Hidden because they will be taken from their families if they're found out.  Okay, teen superheroes - I have a huge thing for comicbookesque superheroish powers.  :D  I really enjoyed the characters and the big scene in the middle where all of the kids help one talent who is about to be taken away.  That's my kind of action scene.

Forsaken by Shadow - The author of this PnR began posting chapters of this book on her blog so I bought it because I have no patience and when a MC has no memory, I really need to know why.  This one is a novella, uses some really interesting powers and has plenty of action.  I remember thinking how well-written it was when I read it. 

Dating my Vibrator - This is a collection of short stories - I bought it after writers tested out their samples on Kindleboards, I happened to read this one and loved it.  Most of them are about the writer's bad/crazy experiences dating after her divorce.  The thing about these stories is how personal they are.  While they are funny, they are also tragic, her pain and experiences really come through the humour.  I really enjoyed this collection - it's very well-written - but sometimes I felt bad for laughing.  I can't wait to read this author's novel.

Lessons & Other Morbid Drabbles - I bought this when it was Kindleboards book of the day.  It's a series of drabbles, pieces of flash fiction amounting to exactly 100 words.  I was curious but I didn't expect much, I'm in awe of anyone who can write so many drabbles but I've also read a lot of, well, crap ones.  Not in this collection!  I thoroughly enjoyed the stories, the genre is horror which I also love.  The stories weren't repetitive, they had great twists and it's just a brilliant form of quick entertainment.  You'll read them quickly, probably want more, but still feel satisfied.  Will definitely be reading Lessons II when it's released.

Waiter, There's a Clue in my Soup! - I read this collection after reading another book by this writer.  I could easily have put that other book on this list but I wanted to stick to one per author.  This is a collection of short mystery stories.  Most are shorts about two main characters in the writer's western mystery novel.  I didn't expect to like these but I really enjoyed them.  Well-written, entertaining and you can tell the writer has put a lot of work into, not only the characters, but the mysteries themselves.  I have no problem recommending this.

Die Already - I bought this because Kipp wrote it.  LOL.  I read his work before and it was deliciously mind-bending, plus ,Kipp does a lot for other indie writers.  This is a short story.  The cover freaks me out and the storyline is twisted.  It is absolutely awesome.  It's about a person who realises that nothing dies around them, no matter how injured they are.  The tragic consequences troubled me, in a good way.  I'm still thinking about what happened and what could possibly happen next.  I didn't expect the end either, great idea and story.

Jenny Pox - I read this one the other day but it definitely belongs in my top picks.  It's (yet another) y/a urban fantasy type novel.  I was comparing formatting on a number of Kindle books and completely forgot all about that when I read the first paragraph of this one.  It begins with Jenny as a child, she kills a snake and her father dons a cuddle suit to comfort her.  My heart pretty much broke here.  Teenage Jenny covers up as much as skin as possible in case she touches someone and accidentally kills them.  This book was incredible.  Well-written, original, shocking in places (and I mean, my jaw dropped at one particular scene), well drawn and complex characters and just such an engaging tone that I couldn't stop reading.  There's sex and violence so it's for the more mature crowd but this one will stay with me.  It probably crosses a line for a lot of people but I really enjoyed it. 

Let me know if you have a list of recommends!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Riding on the Coattails of Fame

One of my very favourite things to do is think about what I would do if I won the lotto - more specifically, how many people's lives I could change.  I'm not particularly charitable, but an Irish woman once won the Euromillions lotto which was over 100million euro and it's kind of fun to imagine sharing that amongst family members and lesser known charities.  Probably sad but it provides imaginary warm and fuzzies. 

Writing success can be similar.  You can carry people up with you.  It always makes me smile when someone has a bit of success and all of a sudden everyone wants a piece of them when before, they might have been ignored.  My new imaginary warm and fuzzies are stemming from imagining what I would do if I became hugely successful as a writer (what can I say, extremely unlikely things appeal to me), who I could help, who I could promote.  I'm totally making a list - just in case.  ;)

Seriously though, people have been making comments a lot about where indies will be when all of the large publishing houses get a grip and price their ebooks competitively.  I happen to think indies will be okay, even if big names start seeing $2.99 as the ideal price point.  Self-publishing is not what it once was, there is so much information out there that nobody has a good enough excuse to do it badly enough to embarrass themselves.  I'm talking about extreme levels of poor formatting, spelling, grammar and writing, not  a bad story because there is a market for pretty much anything.  There are more people who are working on a professional level, more readers willing to give indies a fair chance and the Internet has provided a unique opportunity for indies to come together, compare notes and learn from each other's mistakes.

There are some who market better than others, some who are more business savvy, some who have the charisma to easily attract fans and some who happen to write the right book at the right time.  Word of mouth and a million other things come together in perfect harmony at the right moment and we have a winner.  Who knows other indies, who is connected to other indies in their genre, who is accurately grouped with other indies by Amazon, tags and lists.  They all suck a little bit of the win juice and the luck (and sales) spreads around a little. 

Maybe some of the people who are riding on the coattails of winner number one gain their own buzz, maybe they eventually sell even more than number one, maybe even more indies ride on their coattails.  And maybe, just maybe, if/when the prices level out, the level of writing and editing will be so comparable that people won't have a clue if they're reading indie or trad.

Maybe.  :)

Times, they are a-different.  I've now read indie books that were better edited than some trad published ones.  I'm being serious.  The lack of time spent on editing by some publishers is very apparent.  Quite a few indies now hire professional editors who happen to freelance.  Thanks to the amazing talent out there, a huge number of indie covers are beautiful, eye-catching or a perfect fit for their genre.

Indies will always be judged differently to trad authors.  But that's okay.  So is a little competition.  I think indies will be fine, no matter what happens.  Many have fans for life already.  The future is more exciting than scary and already we're seeing some agents and publishers using the Amazon bestseller lists as their own personal slush-pile.  It's a brand new day but there's room for everyone.  Pinky swear.  Of course, I could be wrong, but I truly believe the big publishers have given indies enough time to establish themselves properly.

In other news that makes Claire happy, Thirst received its first review.  Thank you so much, Joseph, that was very kind of you.  :D  There have been a few other random incidents that made my weekend so I'm out of the winter slump and back on form again.  Cheers world.  ;)

Last thing, I swear!  Yay for Stacey Solomon, Queen of the Jungle.  Good luck Mary & Rebecca.  *Is sucker for reality tv*

Friday, December 3, 2010

White December

I tried to write this post already but it turned into a desperately miserable piece so I'm trying again.  :)

Last month of the year and I'm already trying to plan next year.  I'm not great with plans.  Hopefully ROW80 will help me focus a little - I'm still trying to figure out what my plans are for Round One.  I know what I should do but that's never fun.  :) 

I'm working on a best of 2010 post, my indie picks of the year.  It's hard because I can't mention everyone (not sure I still have everything I read) and there are lots that stood out to me even if there are technically better written books.  It's all personal opinion and I rarely recommend books so take what you want out of it.   Some writers don't get enough credit and deserve a mention so I might make an Amazon list.  I read a lot of different genres so right now, it's looking like an extreme mish-mash.  I kind of want to wait to include my December reads - if there's any.

Amazon's novel contest is almost upon us.  January 24th, I think.  I had plans on entering but now I'm not so sure.  I was thinking about working on a y/a novel I have - not that I expect to win but it's nice to be part of the contest - but looking at my newest release . . . let's just say, I'm doubting myself.  For good reason.  I love ABNA, last year I lurked on the discussion board and it was fun to see so many writers take risks and come up with new ideas.  A couple of Irish writers made it past a round or two so I had people to root for.  :)  This year, there will probably be more writers I kinda sorta know entering which is cool.

Indie sales in November were fantastic for a lot of people by the way.  More indies made it into Amazon's bestsellers list.  I wasn't around this time last year but I know people think fondly of January '10 because of record sales, it will be interesting to see how the next few months compare, especially with the new gifting feature.  Ha, now I know what I'm getting everyone for Christmas - sorry, family.  ;)

It's snowing still and that means the schools are closed, there isn't enough grit for the roads, people have a better excuse than normal not to go to work, and the wait for the next Budget isn't as bad as it should be because we're all so busy worrying about the cold.  Heating bills are going to be a killer and the Budget is going to screw most of us.  But sure, at least we're all fecked together.  :)

I got a cheque from Amazon but they taxed half of it and my bank will probably charge the same amount for cashing it but at least it looks pretty.  LOL.  Looking for upsides in everything right now.  *Cheesy grin*  Really need to sort out the tax thing.  Next year.  *Nods*

I need to move somewhere warm and nice, oh, and cheap.  Any suggestions?