Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The People's Friend Serial Writing Competition

After much thought I have decided I will be entering the above. I saw the competition in one of their magazines the other week and thought, no, I haven't got an idea for that to enter it, so decided to stick with short stories. But then I read an article in the latest issue of Writer's Forum magazine all about writing serials for People's Friend, and the fiction editor, Shirley Blair, said that she doesn't  mind mysteries. Aha. A light bulb moment. I had an idea written down for a possible serial for Woman's Weekly but might be OK for PF now. So, I changed my mind. I have begun an outline for the serial and know what is going to happen in the whole serial as I've already had a few ideas which I've jotted down.

The winner gets publication, the illustrations that go with it, £400 and a free entry to one of their workshops. They want an outline of 1500 words. Basically a synopsis detailing the characters, their ups and down, what happens and the end. They also want the first instalment of 6K words. But you have to send in the coupon that was in either the 15 or 22 August copies of the magazine, both of which I have.

I can't wait to get started properly, which will be after I've sent a short story to my editor, hopefully later this week.

If you are a new author stuck on your ms, then why not sign up for my newsletter of writing tips, exercises and news at http://eepurl.com/bwuQav

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Do you have a theme in all your books?

Sorry I've not been here a lot, but been helping my mum round the house and garden, and then went down with a cold. Still have the cold, but much better now.

Anyway, do you have a theme running through all your books? I do. Mine is hope and second chances. I shall explain more.

With my Guardian Angels series, there is hope for the teen angels, Lizzie and Danny, for redemption by helping other teens on Earth from risking their lives and death, like they did. They give hope to the teens they help by showing them what they can do with their lives if they just try and not give in to boredom. I'm currently writing the fifth and final of the series, where Lizzie and Danny have their last mission to pass and graduate from the school. It doesn't all go to plan like they hoped.

In Geraldine's Gems adult romance series, Geraldine has gone to Heaven after dying and given the chance to redeem herself (she was not nice when alive) by first getting her ex love to be nice again, then going down to Earth to help her relatives get their lives and love back on track. As she is told, One good turn deserves another. So her relatives are given hope and second chance at love.

Then in my dark magical romance series 'Secrets of Singleton' some of the residents whom are single, are given the hope of romance by certain objects who have magical powers given by their descendants.

So there you have my theme of Hope and Second Chances.

I plan to put this theme in non-fiction soon, too. I plan to write and publish a series of short ebooks to help new authors with their writing. The first one is going to be full of writing exercises for all genres, the second one will be more exercises, but will use words and verbs that often get mixed up and confused eg practice/se. (One which I used to get confused with).

You can buy any of the above ebooks at http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0034P09WW

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A question for authors

This is a slightly different blog post today. I want to ask you authors here a question. Think back to when you started writing. When you began, what words and verbs were there that you got mixed up eg practice/se, affect/effect (I've only just come to understand the difference between affect and effect).

The reason I ask is I am creating a freebie for my list of writing exercises to get their writing flowing if and when they get stuck. From that, I want to expand it into a short ebook with more exercises and quizzes about the most common words and verbs we get confused with.

So, if you could let me know by commenting here, or by messaging me on FB, or by emailing me at julied2511atyahoo.co.uk. I will be grateful.

If you think you'd like this freebie as well, let me know also on here with your email and I shall add you to my list.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 3

Finally, I have got round to post about the last day of the conference.

The first talk I went to was by Catherine Jones, talking about her life in the army and writing career in the army and onwards. Then was a talk about how to keep readers reading by Emma Darwin. She told us the many ways of writing styles there are, inc one I didn't know about called 'free indirect style'.  She gave us exercises to do in the different writing styles. One of these gave me an idea for a teen/YA book.

Then was a talk by Tamsyn Murray about emotion in YA. She explained one three YA books are so successful: 'The Fault in our Stars', Hunger Games and the Year of the Rat. They have these in common: Strong indentifiable and central theme. Memorable characters, quality writing, fantastic storytelling, brilliant world building, love, romance, crossover appeal, word of mouth success, PR commitment from publisher and luck. You have to know your reader. Research what's out there. Remember how intense your teen years were. Understand that readers form strong bonds with characters they like - make them relatable and make them care. Let them experience loss in a safe way. How? ID your theme early. Know what your book wants to say. Create loveable characters. Do something different. Don't be afraid to write strong emotions. Deepen the conflict there is already not add more. In teen books, more action has to happen more often. MG is best for engagement.

So there you have what I learnt and come away with. I hope you have learnt something, too.

Friday, 24 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 2 - What I learnt

                    Fielden House where my room was. Next to the Curve where we ate our breakfast.

Day two was all about promotion, can writers live happily ever after and writing fantasy and plotting.

Promotion talks were by Jane Wenham-Jones and Hazel Gaynor. The summary from what Jane said that I picked up were: look at why your book is interesting to others, be punchy, tell why you wrote the book and have an anecdote about the book. For historicals, snippets about the period. 
Hazel said tell people your book exists, give readers reason to care, convince them to buy. Keep them engaged on social media between books. Share interesting book-related content. Support other authors. Tag relevant hashtags. Share quotes from book. Update Goodreads author profile. Be a real person.

There was a panel talking about can writers live happily ever after: in their work and with their characters. Katie Fforde said that as real life can be tough, give readers a safe place to go. One person said that readers don't mind if you kill off a character but it has to feel right and give hope. Readers want a satisfying conclusion not an open ending. As to their livelihood, it is tough out there.

Then I went to a talk by YA fantasy author Ruth Long (writes as RF Long). She writes about folklore and myths and legends, esp Irish ones. She said that realism is the key to making fantasy work. Ground the reader. The more realistic the more fantasy can happen. Can use setting as character in book. Make sure the reader feels what the characters feel. Avoid stupid things that jar people out of the story. Magic has to have consequences and limits. Characters have to do something. Look at the villain, why they are there and why they do what they do. With folklore, don't take someone's God and make them a monster.

I also went to a talk by Jane Johnson. She went to Morroco to research a novel she was writing, met and fell in love with a man there, whom she married later that same year.

Lastly that afternoon, I went to a workshop on plotting by Liz Harris. We were given a handout to complete, which I did. This gave me an idea how to expand Bea into a proper historical romance, by adding her fiancĂ©'s pov to it.

Friday, 17 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 1 - What I learnt

This time last week I was getting v excited about going to the RNA conference in Mile End Road. A week has gone by and I still have good and bad memories. (The bad ones will appear on my food blog). The first talk I went to was a Skype webinar with Jim Azevedo of Smashwords, where he talked about pre-orders, what they are and what they can do for authors.

Here is what I learnt:

Preorders are only for Apple, Kobo and B&N. They are advanced book orders. Readers can order the book before release but they won't be charged until the launch day.

1. Preorders area fast track to desirability, discoverability and visibility. You need to start promoting your ebook months in advance. You are already talking about your next book. Capture the sale, don't lose it. Have a preorder link.
2. Better buzz building. You get anticipation, excitement and fans and superfans, which can lead to
3. Better reviews. Fans are more likely to preorder. Be the first to read your book and to review them.
4. Fast track to a bestseller list. A bestseller is more visibility to readers. Sales lead to more sales.
5. Same day availability as launch day.
6. Increased merchandising option.  Eg Apple iBooks Oz have a special called 'Coming soon'.

Planning - Budget for a long runway into publishing timetable. More days = more time to get orders. 4-12 weeks is recommended.

Timing - Avoid Tuesdays on SW (even though I published my latest on a Tues and got a sale). The weekend is the biggest selling days. Holidays and after Xmas Day are good.

1. Contests, chapter reveals, blog tours. Promote direct links to preorder pages.
2. Mobilize your fans as a street team. Spread the word
3. Author special pricing. You can have preorder price cheaper, then increase it on launch day.
4. Leverage other books to market preorder. Update back pages of all other books. Free sample of book. Series starter as free.

But what if your book isn't finished yet? There is now Assetless Preorders. You only need to know the title, the price, the description, release date and category. (Might do this myself for either 'Fire Angels' or Billy, or both). When you upload onto SW, and click 'publish' you can choose the option 'make it a preorder.'

Review publishing schedule in 12 months. Get all firm projects as preorders. Choose your on-sale date as far ahead as possible. Once preorder is listed, promote!

For normal preorders you have to have the book ready 10 days in advance so each retailer gets your book on the same day.

I asked if we could change metadata eg title of book from the preorder one to the launch day one. Yes, you can change any of the metadata.

Now thinking seriously about having one or two of my forthcoming ebooks as Assetless Preorders.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

'The Cameo Brooch' cover reveal

Next week I, hopefully, plan to publish my next ebook, 'The Cameo Brooch'. It is Archie's story how he got together with the love of his life, Gabrielle, thanks to a family heirloom of a cameo brooch. Here is the cover:

Archie's great-great aunt Beatrice is mentioned in this story, and it inspired me to write her own romance later on. Need to research the 19th century more to do this, but am looking forward to it, even though I've not written historical romance before.