Sunday, 30 December 2012

Publishing Strategy 2013 - Part 2

So, here are more questions that I will ask myself and answer to build my publishing and business plan next year, which is only a couple of days away. Eek.

How many ebooks did I produce this year? And was that a comfortable pace for me? How many would I like to do in 2013? In 2012 I published 4 short ebooks and 1 short story. I did feel this was a good pace for me, but next year I want to release more short stories to go inbetween publication of my two series to keep readers happy. I want to also release two YA short ebooks as well as an anthology of the first 3 in the series, and maybe publish it POD with Createspace. Something to learn to do.

Which series will I continue to write? Any I won't continue? New series? I am continuing with both my YA and adult romance series, as both seem to be selling now (in the last few days I have sold 6 copies of my Xmas romance on Smashwords, and am a happy bunny). I have in the pipeline to write a series of short stories based on a small village with magical secrets. Can't wait to start that. I also plan to publish e-articles about living with Asperger's Syndrome, expanded from my blogs this year.

Has my production team continued to work well with me in producing high quality ebooks?Yes. Both my editors have really helped me learn more about writing, grammar and sentence structure. My cover designers have given me great cover designs from basic photos that I choose.

Real Sales Numbers and Financial Review:  OK. Until recently my YA series seemed to be selling more than my adult romances, but they seem to be levelling off now. Numbers are quite low but I feel they are slow burners and will reach good levels soon. Finances: this year I ordered postcards and posters for my adult romance series and cards for my YA series and visited libraries, but I don't know if I actually did any good or not. So, next year I am saving money by creating my own with some coloured cards I have. I started to create flyers promoting my first two adult romance stories on this month, so I think I can do it for both series and any new stories forthcoming.

What major milestones have I hit? My new milestones? I hit one year in my indie journey. And I hit the coveted amount of $10 on Smashwords enabling me to apply for that ITIN next year, which will let me have my royalties without them withholding 30pc of it from me. So next year, my new milestone will be to earn at least $100 across all platforms from my ebooks. I also want to sell a few more of Rosie books.

Last question for this week. How did my indie epublishing buzzwords work for me? What will they be for next year? Well, magical realism and angels mostly, with Asperger's Syndrome chiming in near the end. Next year I want it to be more magical realism with romance, and Asperger's matching it. I plan to release my blog series about being an Aspergirl out into the open world so people can understand where I am coming from.

So that is all for now. Next week I will answer the rest of the questions, and hopefully have started writing up my new business and publishing plan.

Friday, 28 December 2012

An Aspergirl at Christmas - being social or not

Christmas is time for families to get together and have a fun and social gathering, but for someone like me who has Aspgerger's Syndrome it can be more anxious than fun. So I thought I'd give my take on how my Christmas went this year (last year was a disaster but this year was lots better). Christmas Eve and Day my mum and I were on our own and it was really nice and pleasant, in that we could do want we want and not have to worry about timing meals etc. Boxing Day was the day we were expecting my brother, my two teenage nephews and my brother's new girlfriend who we hadn't met yet. Mum was nervous as she didn't know what to expect from her and she hates doing meals for company. I did start to make an effort by asking my oldest nephew how he's getting on at college (he hates it cos he doesn't like the course he's doing and wants to train to do something else). Other than that that was all I really contributed talk wise. I listened mostly and let the others do all the talking. That is how it is for me at family gatherings. I sit there listening, and ask or chat now and then. This is just an example of how my Asperger's comes in to affect at these times.  I shall blog next year about how I have been at other family gatherings.

Watch out for these blogs to appear as e-articles next year, as I plan to release them as a set before eventually putting them altogether as an autobiography.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

My publishing strategy for 2013 - Questions I will ask myself

2013 is approaching fast for us all, and I am now thinking over the last year of my indie journey and what I want to keep the same and what I want to change. So here is my strategy for next year, or part of it. The questions are also what DD Scott of WG2E fame has asked herself on the blog, and I have nicked them from her.  Here goes:

1. Am I happy? Am I still enjoying the Indie publishing journey? The answer is a resounding yes. I love having the control of writing and publishing what I want and not have anyone else say that it won't fit any genres or it's too short to publish. I also like the immediacy of indie publishing, instead of spending time sending out ms after ms to agent after agent and then if you are accepted (it's a big if these days) then having to wait months and months for it to be published and out there for the readers. With indie publishing of ebooks, once you have got your ms ready and formatted then it is full steam ahead and you can download it onto the relevant websites eg Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords. Smashwords only takes an hour or so for it to be up there, Kobo and Amazon a day or two. Much faster than trad publishing. So, I am sticking to epublishing for now.

2. Is my Indie epublishing goal still the same? No. I wanted to reach as many readers as I can but it seems that my adult romance ebooks aren't selling as much as my YA ones. So my new goal is to find a new audience for those ebooks. Which leads me to the next question.

3. What strategies have advanced the goal and what haven't? Well, one strategy that I feel has advanced my goal by getting my name known is being involved with the Writers' Guide to Epublishing blog and the new street team. Another strategy that has worked, I only did the other day and that was promoting and selling my books at a library Xmas fayre. So I want to do more of those. The strategy I feel that has let me down is visiting local libaries and giving them postcards and posters advertising my ebooks and stories. I don't think I have got any sales from this, so won't be doing much of that next year.

So that is my 2013 strategy so far, which I have written down in my little black book for my business plan. Next time I will blog with more questions to ask myself about this,

What new strategies have you decided to do next year to help your goal in writing? Let me know.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

An Aspergirl at a libary Xmas Fayre

One of the things that published authors need to do these days is to get out there and make yourself known. For someone with Asperger's Syndrome this can be filled with anxiety and worry, due to difficulty communicating with others. Well, this is what I did last Saturday,but not filled with anxiety but with excitement. I had phoned up one of my local community libraries to ask if I could promote my books and stories at their Xmas Fayre. It was agreed. So last Saturday off I went with a backpack full of postcards, flyers and a few books (Rosie) to promote and sell. One of the other stall holders bought a Rosie book from me and it went slowly. An hour later children started to come in for the singalong, and things picked up. I decided to do what I did before and take bookmarks and pens and give them out free to children. I approached the children friendly and gave out a few bookmarks and pens. I also gave out a few flyers about alfiedog website which I now have two squirrel stories on. And like last time, just as I was packing up to go home, someone approached me with interest about buying a book, she was another stall holder and was taking over my table when I left. I got chatting to her about publishing books, gave her my flyer for my Geraldine ebooks and she said she wanted to buy Rosie. She needed to wait for a boy to come back with some money for her, and when he did, I signed the book with my name and gave her the change from the money she gave me. Two books sold. Hurray. One other thing that was interesting. I got chatting to another stall holder (I gave out my cards to them, as you never know what opportunity might come from networking with other sellers), and this lady asked me if I had done school fetes. I said not visits because of budgets. She said, no school fayres/bazaars. I said no, but will look into it next year. So that is another opportunity to get myself known and out there locally. Will certainly investigate this idea.

All in all, I had a great time chatting to other stall holders and promoting my work. I broke even as I had to pay for the table, and the amount I got for both books paid that back.  Can't wait to do more of those sort of promoting. Watch this space.

This post is part of my 'Living with Asperger's as a writer' and will appear as an e-article sometime next year.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Conference last day - Author branding and performing

On the last day of the conference, which happened to be my birthday, first we had a regional network meeting. Anita Loughrey our leader told the group what has been set up for the group and what has been going but stopped. I offered to set up the London Write In again as it had stopped last summer. The first meeting will be in January. After that it was off to author branding with PJ Norman and Justin Somper. Here is what I learnt and did:

Author branding has to be consistent in all we do. Know what our core message is. What makes you distinct. Connects to readers. Brands can evolve with each book. Then we had to work out the brand for an author. My group had Dan Brown, and it was decided he was boring and gave the same answsers to interviews. I said his brand would be religious buildings and religion.  Then we had to work out our own brands based on what we had just learnt. Work out the brand on your books and yourself. I practically knew mine: Magical realism with gentle warm humour. I also put magical powers, shining and glowing objects, purple. For myself I put friendly, approachable and Asperger's Syndrome. Then once we had done that, we had to go to someone we'd not spoken to and say our brand. As per school days, I was the last person to be paired up, so was with PJ. He told me that it was a good idea to add Asperger's in with my brand. So, I might do that in future. 

After that we had lunch. I had moussaka with rice and tomatoes which was nice.

The afternoon session was with Steve Hartley and Mo O'Hara, and was all about being the performing author eg at school visits. We had to bring with us a few pages of our ms that would be entertaining. Steve showed us how he did his visits and told us how we could perform. Then it was our turn. I was nearly last. I ended up showing off my socks, as they were magical. We were sitting on the floor for most of the session, and my bottom took a couple of days to recover from that. I felt that after that, school visits and being a performer isn't for me.

The day ended with presentations of prizes - I didn't win anything. I left a bit early to get a taxi back to the station, and ended up sharing with four others, which was good cos we shared the cost of the fare and only paid a pound each.

All in all it was a v informative and helpful conference - I came away with ideas how to improve Billy and knowing my author brand and what I wanted to do with it.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Money Saving Tip for Christmas

Want to save some money this Christmas when it comes to wrapping presents? Here is my one tip that I have done for years. Do you buy gift tags each year to put on presents? Well, I have found that you don't have to do this. Buy lots of gift BAGS that have tags on and use those. Card Factory are currently doing offers on these. I got 3 large bags for £1 and 4 middle-sized ones for £1. They are also doing jumbo bags for 2 for a pound and 3 square ones for a pound. I bought some more the other day so I have a good stock for next year. If you are like me and have a small family Christmas and share presents on the same day, then you can get your bags back and reuse them the next year. You don't have to give it to the same relative, you can always buy a cheap pack of tiny Xmas cards and stick them on to the handle with a new name in it. This is what I do. It saves a lot of time and money, not having to buy tags each year.

I might do another money saving tip for Xmas next week. Will have to think what it can be.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Conference - Saturday (Part 2)

Also on the second day, Saturday, were two more talks. The first was an Industry Panel consisting of Mara from Walker Books, Sarah from Hot Key, Janetta Otter-Barry and Kate Wilson from Nosy Crow. Mar publishes teen and younger fiction. She looks for voice, good story, writing and characters. Sarah publishes from 9 -19. Is enthusiatic about ebooks. She publishes both e and print books together. Looks for what she wants to read. Janetta only publishes books by her old authors from Frances Lincoln. Kate publishes from 0-12. Looks at transmedia.  Has to be child centric and mum friendly. Has to be sure they can do something for you.  Both Val and Viv work with illustrators, so I didn't take many notes about them being a writer.

Question time

Do you accept submissions and how? Kate: Yes. Sarah - Yes. Janetta - yes but shorter text picture books. Val - Yes, do research online and in bookshops. Viv - yes. Accepts PDFs of imaes. She will Google you. Mara - yes, even though the website says no. editorial@walker.

Mind if the ms goes to agent first? Mara says they let me have by -. If with agent then work is good. Kate said some agents she trusts. Vic said down to personality. Kate thinks that publishers offer more. Sarah said agents can get you into conversations you wouldn't get on your own. Kate never looks at agents who don't offer world rights.

If already published, mind? Sarah said no, submit idea. Kate also said no. Janetta only has established authors. Are you accepting fiction? Her area only. New editor to arrive.

Dream submission? Mara - strong junior fiction 9-12 like David Almond. Kate - not in this world, fantasy. Janetta - pb. Develop on list. Illustrative non-fiction. Work with other writers in other countries, so yes. Kate - author promotion - is cost factor overseas.

Trend for PB for older readers - No. Had to sell abroad. Historical fiction revival? Didn't realise that was dead. Has important place. Kate thinks it's interesting time for writers.

Later was State of the Nation where various people involved in the industry had a discussion, from bookseller, library to publisher. Childrens' Writers in South London was mentioned, something I'd not heard of and am interested in. The main thing said was It's not you, it's the bottom line, when talking about rejections. Publishers tend to put marketing to one lead author and the others have to fend for themselves. In the US, midlist authors are struggling. They look at low track records. US take more chance with new authors who have no track records. Looked at generate a bit. Come marketers. Claire agreed that easier to help debut authors.
Relentless Revolution (Digital) - Melissa said it's interesting time to work on. Wants to inc all authors. Think there's a plan to sell ebooks, too. Strategies in places. Claire said contracts, watching and waiting and figuring it out. Potential in ebooks for increasing readers. Wanting it to work for you. Matt said there is confusion in libraries about Amazon Prime. In libraries you can borrow as many books as you want for free but Amazon you have to pay for just one. Lin Oliver said we should embrace it all, and is excellent for all. Think of ourselves as creators. We have win Amazon. Issue of discoverability. Missing the gatekeeper. That we can read. Beverley said 1 in 6 books bought b y adults for kids by reader request. Should adapt. Don't forget story is at heart of it. Lin said we don't have to worry about gamasitation. Others can do that. Danger for kids to sustain reading text.

Endangered (libraries) School libraries aren't compulsory. Digital review - if that goes then public have no one that can check for them if councils are doing right. Matt got rather emotional about all this as he is a librarian. Candy wonders if libraries should fit in with what's going on. Matt said that libraries are for people who can't afford books, and are first contact with council. Lin said that libraries in the US are the same. They are using libraries more for functions such as homework, to learn and gather for the communities. Less likely to close then. Children can phone central library for tutorial help.

Merging of the giants. Claire thinks it's good news but fewer people to sell to. Problem is evaluation of books. Costs - if book is usual £12.99, then ridiculous now considering ebook prices being low. People now think that price of book is right.

And that is is for talks. Next time I will talk about author branding and performing and what I learnt.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Having food intolerances at a conference

It is not too bad when you are going to a conference and have food intolerances. The two I have been to over the years, you are asked about dietary needs on the application form, so they can cater for you at the main meal times. For instance. At the recent SCBWI-BI conference I went to, the first main meal was on the Friday night at Pizza Express. They did have non-dairy options. I had dough balls to start with, chicken and pancetta salad for mains (which did have bits of cheese on - didn't know if it was dairy or goats) so didn't eat those, and for dessert I had a gorgeous raspberry sorbet, which I thought was made from real raspberries cos I tasted v raspberry.

The second day, at lunch time, I had tomato-based chicken curry with rice, and a few bits of tomato. This was v nice and quite healthy. The party in the evening was quite good, too. They had sandwiches, I had ham and branston, salad and chicken wings etc. OK for me, but my friend, Scarlet, who has gluten intolerance, it wasn't that good. I managed to eat a piece of the amazing cake and a couple of yummy biccies there. And I had no effects after that.

Sunday - At lunch time I had a moussaka with mushrooms and aubergine in, with rice. I didn't eat the mushrooms cos I don't like them. The aubergine to me tasted of nothing much. Overall it was good. But I had one niggle. I wanted to eat a bit of cake during coffee break in the morning, seeing at it was my birthday that day, but was told they all had milk in. Boo. Luckily I had my own free from biccies with me, which I ate, but I would've liked to have had something the others were able to have just for that day.  I also had bananas with me and dried dates, which I ate during the weekend as snacks to keep me going.

Apart from the snacks at coffee breaks, I thought I was catered to quite well.  I hope others, esp Scarlet, were too.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Conference - Crit Night and Day One

This time last week I was catching a train from Winchester to head back home from the SCBWI-BI conference. Can't believe it was a week ago now. Anyway, here is what I learnt at the crit night on the Friday night, and Saturday.

Crit Night: I emailed off the first few chapters of Billy to be crit'd by the others. The chapter structure was right for the age range (6-9), but some of the sentences needed to be restructured. The magical socks was loved by all, yay! Liked the idea, too, of the mother being magical, so will keep that in and add it back from the original version to the current one. But Billy seemed more average than boring. So made me think I needed to change the title to something like Average Archie.
This was followed by Pizza. I had dough balls to start with, then a main meal of chicken and pancetta salad with warm dough sticks. It had chilli bonnets in, which I didn't realise it did until I bit a bit and went, hah. My mouth took 10 mins to recover from that.


First it was the talk by Celia Rees. This is what I learnt. You  need to have a really good idea, and make it watertight. Have real characters. A plot that works, no weakness. Celia collects things relating to the current ms she's working on eg magazine images, photos and sticks them on a board for her to see. Gave me an idea to collect photos of things relating to my mss when I'm working on them. Write about real places as it makes it more believable. I made a note of this, because that is what I've done in my latest YA short ebook. Follow your heart and what your passionate about. Celia was a great talker.

Then came Lin Oliver and her Write Humour with Heart. For Middle Grade readers, which she inc 7-9. Be aware of the age range. Readers that have just started reading. Make it more comic adventures of plot.
Her thoughts on writing comedy are:
1. Involves taking risks: Follow your weirdness. Nothing is safe. World has to be consistent in itself so you can write what you like. Keep pushing boundaries.
2. Has to come from the truth. Something we can all recognise. Mine your own embarrassment. Best laughter comes with little empathy. Tinge of another emotion.
3. Involve empathy.
4. Don't try to struggle uphill. Don't make life hard for yourself. Examine the premise.
5. One purpose, one audience. Yourself. Write it to amuse yourself.
Her tips:
1. Think of funny titles
2. Character names (Lin reads obituaries). Made me think I have to have characters with funny names in Billy.
3. Character quirks or professions. Eg things they say or do repeatedly.
4. Use surprise. Banana
5. Incongruity - Think of Arnie in Kindergarten cop where he is big muscly man and is a kid cop
6. Discomfort. Laughing with tears and not out loud. Esp with a baddie.
7.Reversal of roles. Expected role - see scene of it. Eg gourmet chef has to judge a junk food comp.
8. Exaggeration. In langauge and plot. Start with something real.
9. Nonsense.
10. Specifics. Make words more specific. Eg floppy flander. Describe as funny,.
11. Attitude. Way they speak
12 Funny sounding language eg weedwacker.
Make it have rhythm, and be snappy and pacy.

I know we had lunch, then I had my one-to-one appointment. The editor made some of the same comments about Billy that I had the night before. Billy being average more than boring. I was asked if I would be willing to change the scene of school if an editor asked me to  and I said yes. I have since had a really good idea to make it more exciting.

I think I will carry on this blog later in the week, as there is so much more to say about Day One.

Friday, 30 November 2012

An Aspergirl at a conference

The main problem for me and other Asperger's sufferers is difficulty communicating with others, esp groups. So, imagine me at a writers' conference last weekend. If you have not been to a conference, where there's a room full of writers then you won't know how noisy it can get - v noisy. My first test was getting a cab from the hotel to the campus for the crit night. Thankfully, I decided to wait in the lobby to see if anyone I knew came along. Along came Rita, whom I know from Facebook, and we got a cab together. Hi, Rita. Next text was the crit night. We all sat in groups and critiqued each other's mss. I did try to look at people when I talked but I do know that at times I didn't, either. Then came the meal and I chose to sit in a corner. But I did talk to others who were next to me.

Following day, after breakfast, I saw a few of the others I knew at another table and asked to go with them. I waited for them, then Rita came along, and I said I was going with others, but when I looked they had gone, so I ended up going with Rita again. This was my pattern all weekend. I would wait in the lobby to see who came along and ask to share a cab with them. Or I'd meet up with someone I knew during the day and arrange to go back to the campus/party venue later that day. Thankfully the hotel was just round the corner from the party venue and a few mins walk there and back. My kind of place to have a party.

On Sunday, I was going to get a cab by myself, but another author whom I'd not met v kindly gave me a lift in her car to the campus. At the end of the day, I decided if I had to get a cab to the train station by myself I would, but would see who would come along in the meantime. A few did, and the cab was shared by 6 of us in the end and we all shared the cost, £1 each.

I will blog more about the conference and how I felt on Sunday and during next week. Sunday will be about the crit night and what I learnt and decided to do and first talk I went to.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

7 Secrets of Suspense - Part 2 Exercise and Question Time

So, after Bruce Hale told us the 7 secrets, he did a raffle. We had to put in our contact details in his hat, and he pulled them out. Whoever got lucky, won either a book of his or a CD of one of his courses. I was unlucky.  We also did an exercise. We were given a sheet of several opening lines, and had a few minutes to carry on the story of the line we had chosen. I chose one that began something like this 'When I stepped inside the house, I would never have guessed that the old lady....' I chose this line because it was perfect to go with a short story I have planned to revise for the womag market next year. Then some of us read ours out.

Then Bruce read some pages from other books. One had the 'ticking bomb' example in that the character said, 'Pretty dumb of me, I know.' You can use this as a dialogue example. Use close 3rd person - plant clues that make reader think things are going to happen.

Question Time

Someone asked about using mixed POV for 9-12 year olds - answer, use if necessary.
Writing for boys - Write for a non-reader in a hurry. Think of their distractions (video games etc). Have immediacy. Humour, action, suspense. Grab them at the start.
How he plans - Does messy first draft to get story out. General plan. Plan 2/3 of book. The chunk at the end he doesn't know what happens.

His publisher buys his books from the titles. Has a book out every 6 months.
Make it fun and engaging.

And that was that.

Oh, and somewhere in between he had us singing 'My Way'.  We had a great time, and I certainly learnt loads from it, esp helping me with my current YA ebook.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

7 Secrets of Suspense by Bruce Hale - Part 1

This is Part 1 of the talk by Bruce Hale I went to on 30 October (I know it's late). So here it is:

What is suspense? Anxiety you get when you know something's about to happen.

If it's a picture book, it must be a page turner.
Have an engine that drives the story - get reader asking what happens next - the stakes. Give them a feeling that something vital is at risk. What the character has to gain/lose. 

Eg. Bomb under the table. Terror in anticipation of it.A ticking under the table. Have character shout 'Don't sit down.'

Leading up to it and drawing it longer.

1. Start with character. Make the reader care about them, then put them in danger. Let flaws show. What do they want - drive. What is preventing them getting it. What is their trait that will trip them up (desire). Reason they are in scene. Make it personal. Give them a secret. Keep wanting to come up at inappropriate moment.

2. Set the hook. Concept. First page to grab reader. And end of chapter. Sets up suspense. Just enough, not too much. Clues here and there. Humour. Surprise, plunge into action. Question. Foreshadowing.

3. UP the uh-oh factor. Raise the stakes. More danger the better. Make it worse. Simple reveals. How can I make it worse? Going bad to worse. If going well, then reverse it. Microtension  - moment by moment tension that keeps you reading. Conflicting emotion.

4. Thicken the plot. Make it complicated, emotionally. Ticking clock eg think Back to the Future. Deadline with consequence. Do the unexpected. Keep reader guessing. Put in a twist. Foreshadow. Pacing - weave your writing. Better writing. Breathe then adventure.

5. Merrily misdirect. Plant clues to lead to wrong answer.

6. Conceal and reveal. Employ imagination. Think what happens next.

7. Take a tip from Frank (Sinatra) - Do it your way.

That was the 7 secrets Bruce mentioned. Throughout the talk I kept getting ideas how to improve the current ms I was working on .  Part 2 will be on Thursday, when I shall tell you the rest of the talk and what the exercise we did that day and how it helped me.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Xmas food treats for people with food intolerances

Whilst I am printing off More Fish in the Sea to edit, I will blog about something close to my heart - food intolerances at seasonal times.

It is getting nearer to Xmas and by now I would normally have done all my shopping, but I have been so busy with other things going on in my personal life that I haven't this year. One thing that does come to mind is treats to eat at that time of year, esp when both my mum and I have food intolerances: me with dairy and soya, and Mum with gluten sensitivity and dairy. Over recent years and months I have found various alternatives to yummy eats that we can have and here are a few. Might blog about more nearer the time.

1. Sweets, or chocolate: I have discovered really nice choc buttons. Only come in a small packet but have found recently I prefer these to dark chocolae which I now find is too bitter tasting for me.

2. Biscuits: I think these are made by Dietary Special (can't remember exactly), but there are Free From Rich Tea biscuits. They don't quite taste like the real ones, but still taste delicious.

3. Puddings: We used to have a fruit strudel, but now Mum has gluten sensitivity we can't eat that. Last year we found a really gorgeous choc sponge pudding and sticky toffee one, both Free From. We have this with custard, which is made from soya, but it is a special time of the year. We did have this also with free from ice dessert but that is no longer available until the new year.

So those are my three known treats for people like me with food intolerances. Let me know if you find anything else like these. You can find these in the Free From or Well Being aisle in Sainsbury's.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lost in Distraction - a sign of Asperger's?

Something happened to me the other night on the way back from a writers' talk, which I am a bit embarrassed to admit.  I am not sure if it is a sign of Asperger's or not, and will ask at the end of this post if anyone knows. So, this is what happened.

I went to a talk by American author Bruce Hale. It was a really good talk (and I'll post about it next week), that I kept thinking about it on the train home from Charing Cross. My other excuse is that it was dark and I couldn't see the station sign properly. Anyway, I was on the train thinking about this talk that I got so distracted by my thoughts that when I came to, I heard the train voice announce that the next stop was New Cross. What! I thought. Oh no. I missed my stop. I had totally missed London Bridge. I phoned my mum to let her know and that I didn't know what to do. I got up and went to the doors and there I had an idea. I asked the others on the train where it went, and got my happy answer - two stops after New Cross was Lewisham, which was local to me. So that's where I ended up getting off. Then coming out of the station, it being dark, I wasn't sure where I was walking as I'm used to seeing the bus stop in the daylight. I thought I was going the wrong way (far away from the stop - I know different now) and I asked a couple. I went back the way I came and round the other side. I had to run for my bus. In the end though, I think there wasn't that much difference in time getting home that way than there would've been if I had gone home the normal way via London Bridge.

So, that's my story of distraction. Is there anyone out there that knows if getting lost in thoughts like that is part of Asperger's? I would love to know.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Next Big Thing

I have been tagged by Christina Jones to do 'The Next Big Thing'. This is the second time I have done this. Last time I talked about my fourth romance story, this time it is something different. So here it is:

What is the title of your next book?

The Railracing Angels. It’s the third in my YA series ‘The Guardian Angels’ This is the cover.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

From an article in the paper about teenagers risking their lives on railways and with cars. A combination of my first and second ebook in the series.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA fantasy/paranormal

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Brooke Vincent and Sol Heras (Sophie Webster and Ryan Connor in Coronation Street)

Will your book be self-pubished or represented by an agency?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Two months
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
LA Weatherley’s ‘Angel’ trilogy.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Other indie authors such as DD Scott, John Locke, all who’ve had success at being indie, inspired me to go indie myself.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Magical powers. Theme of second chance at life.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

My one year anniversary - of being an indie author

Thursday was my one year anniversary of publishing my very first ebook, The Railway Angel. It so happened that I published my fourth estory that day, too, The Quest. As a lot of indie authors are blogging about their journey and how they have got on in their first year, I thought I'd do the same. So, here are my figures and what I have learnt along the way, and what I have still to learn.



Railway Angel   5066 (1 paid)
Racing Angel     46 (12 paid)
One Good Turn  17
The Quest           1

I have earned: $8.32 (It has now gone up to $9.52 - two more of my second ebook have sold).

Guaranteed that most of these, esp for the last three ebooks, are probably just for samples. But, hey, it still means that people are reading my writing.


3247 in the one year, that is all the ebooks so far.
16 of those are paid.
I have earned: $5.68

1 (OGT) = 37p

So let's calculate how many that is overall - 8378. I know some of these are just samples, but this number is more people I have known in my life to have read any part of my work. I am really happy about this.

I have earned more and had more sales on Smashwords. At one point it was more earnt on Amazon with more sales on SW.

What I have learnt along the way
1. I am not alone. I have found that there are now so many other authors going the indie route rather than the trad one, and some of these are very friendly and helpful with offering advice to others how they went and what they have learnt to do and what not to do. One of those being namely, DD Scott.
2. I am so enjoying having control of my writing life. What I write, the length I write, what I want to publish.
3. How to format documents into an ebook. After I did it the first time, it came easy to me. Tip here: try to get the document you are typing to be with the Smashwords guidelines as you go along eg the para indent and line spacing. Saves time when it comes to publishing it.
4. How to convert documents from Word using Calibre. I found it easy to use.
5. I can't do cover designs, so have hired it out to someone else to do.
6.Am still learning sentence structure and plotting and character development.
7. You can get great photos of people and places from stock photo websites such as istockphoto.

I have yet to learn: how to do a Table of Contents. I have been told it is easy to do. We shall see. Oh, and how to use Twitter and Facebook more effectively for marketing. I plan to start up my own Street Team on Fb next week, so watch FB.

That is it. Oh one last thing. I had a message on FB the other day from another writer. She said that she read my blog about being an indie author and it inspired her to do the same. Well, there you go. I don't think I've inspired anyone before.  Here's to another year of being an indie author. Cheers!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Sugar and slumps - Is it true?

You've probably heard or read that sugar and refined carbs can give you a quick high then an even faster slump, but is it true. I can confirm, from personal experience, that it is. The other week I had a couple of rows of dark chocolate and two chocolate coated rice cakes in a space of a few hours. I was fine that day. But I then had the same the following day, and what made it worse was I was tired. Shortly after having the chocolate, I started to feel down and lethargic, and didn't want to do anything except lie down. My mum said that I should have paced the sugar intake, and thought I was feeling that way. I ended up lying down for a short while. After that I felt a lot better and more with it. So, now I am being careful with what sugar and refined carbs I have, and not have too much in one day, esp if I feel tired, too.

It made me recall that it wasn't the first time I have had this. I remember a few Xmas' ago, when I used to eat lots of biscuits, chocolates and other refinded carbs, I used to feel so lethargic that all I wanted to do was go to bed in the afternoon. I used to get really frustrated with this, as I wanted to do my writing instead.

So, yes, it is true that sugar can give you a quick high and an even faster slump. Believe me, you do not want it to happen to you. You can't do much at the time.

Have any of you out there had this slump like I have? Let me know if you have, and how you overcame it. Be interested to know.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

How to publish and sell your article on the Kindle - An ebook review

This is another review for a second non-fiction ebook I have recently read and has inspired me to write other things. How to Publish and Sell Your Article on the Kindle: 12 Tips for Short Documents is by Kate Harper. I bought this ebook because it sounded interesting to me in that it could be another avenue for me to go down to get myself known out there about who I am and what I am about. Kate highlights various good pointers on how to get your article on to Kindle. These include how to use hyperlinks, tagging your book, and putting in the description its length and that it's an article.  After reading this ebook, I got all fired up about what I can write about and sell. I know now. Next year I am going to expand my publishing reportoire into non-fiction articles, esp about my life with Asperger's. I have been blogging here about it every few weeks, and I felt that this could be a good way to spread the word about who I am and what I am about, at the same time raising awareness of Asperger's in adults and females. I feel that Asperger's is known a lot more in children rather than adults, and also in boys. As my last post about Asperger's read, it is now knonw that Asperger's in girls is higher than first thought because it is harder to diagnose. So, I will be revising my blogs into articles next year and publishing them on Kindle etc. I think I will also write articles about writing fillers and on my passions of recycling, going green etc. I could also when I have enough articles on one subject, make it into a whole ebook and then publish it like that. We shall see. Ereaders have given us writers so many new opportunities out there. Watch this space...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Asperger's in females - harder to diagnose

In last weekend's Celebs magazine in the Sunday Mirror, there was a v interesting article. It was all about Asperger's/Autism in females and why it is harder to diagnose than it is in boys. Being a female, this got me curious.  Here is what the expert said in the report. It is thought that up until now, autism has mainly been a male thing. Think 'Rain Man', and that the male has been detail-obsessed, mathetically minded. But it is now reported that Asperger's in girls (Aspergirls) is rising. The reason why it is more difficult to diagnose in females is that it shows up differently in girls. They are not fixated with typical male things, rather girly things. It is the intensity of the fixation that is autistic not the subject. There was a small part of it that said that friendship is a challenge for girls with Asperger's, and I know this to be true.  I will blog about this at a later date in more detail about my school life, but generally I did find it hard to make friends by myself at both primary and secondary schools, and I only managed to do so by tagging on to other girls/groups. The only friend I see now and then to date, was part of a group of girls I tagged on to at secondary school. One of the other traits is extreme perfection, which can lead to low esteem if things don't work out. That is not me.

There is one thing that I do agree with at the end of the report. The expert reported that even women in their 50s and 60s are now being diagnosed, and they have benefitted enormously from it, now having a better understanding of themselves. I can relate to that, as after I was diagnosed last year, lots of pieces of a jigsaw slotted into place for me, and I now have a better idea of who I am and what I can do.

So, are you an adult with Asperger's? If so, do you agree with this report. Are you a parent with a daughter who has Asperger's, and have you found it has been hard to get diagnosis? Let me know. Would like to find out what other people think about this.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

How to earn £10 in 10 Minutes - A review

I don't normally review books/ebooks but I felt I had to with this one. How to earn £10 in 10 Minutes is by Linda Lewis, who writes short stories for Womags and a column for Writers' Forum magazine. I bought this ebook because I wanted to find out what she says about writing letters, which I have done over the last several years. I thought I knew a lot about it, but I was wrong. Not only does it tell you about reader letters, but about writing tips with photos, sending photos and other short features you can write to magazines about. I had tried sending a tip to a magazine once before, but no luck. After reading how Linda does it, rather sneakily, I shall take a leaf out of her ebook and try my luck again. I have been buying Womags to see what is out there and whom I can write to. Am now planning to start writing them again to see what happens. I also might try doing photos, if I can find a subject to take pictures of. I wasn't going to write any more letters/fillers this year, but after reading this I came over all enthusiastic again.  Fillers for me have made me more money than my fiction writing so far, so I will continue doing them until I can no longer afford to spend monies on extras.

So, thank you, Linda Lewis, for giving me the enthusiasm to keep writing them.

Next week I will write about another ebook on writing that I have liked and that has given me enthusiasm to try something else to publish.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Growing chives and tomatoes

This year has been a bad year for growing vegetables, due to the weather we have had.  My mum grows chives at the side of our veggie patch and this year they have given us some good crops.  Up until a few weeks ago though, they started to become rusty coloured, so inedible. Mum cut them back and I thought that was it. No more chives. I was wrong.  They are starting to grow again and are looking better than before. Only little ones but still some.

The same can't be said for tomatoes. We have had some, but others haven't been very good. Lots of them have split due to the changing weather. They ripen when they get the sun, but then split when they get too wet, which they did with the pouring rain we had earlier this year. Some have still to ripen and we have left them in the hope that the weather stays sunny and dry so that they can ripen for us to eat. I'd say that we have had to compost about half of them due to them either being split or having spots on them, both which are inedible.

So, what luck or not, have you had growing veggies in your garden this year? Have you had the same problem I have had? Let me know.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Want to be published by Choc Lit? - Here is some guidelines

On 22 Sept, I went to my local RNA chapter meeting where there was a talk by the director of romance publisher Choc Lit, Lynn Vernham. A talk about their submissions and what they like.  Here is my report.

They have recently expanded to the US, and will be to Australia soon. They sell foreign rights. Lynn has a marketing background.

They release their books as ebooks a month before the printed book comes out. They do digital only novellas but only for their existing authors as supporting promotion.  They have partners in schemes to help promo with authors and their brands.

They accept mss from 70,000 words (lower lit) to 120,000.

To submit to them: email them your synopsis, and paragraph about you. Which must inc that you are doing social media, because the more you are online, the more your book sells, and if you aren't on line then they won't accept you.
    It was mentioned that a lot of the RNA members are published by them, and they do look at their mss.  They do take on self-published books. Likes paranormal.
   Their process is that they have a panel of readers in the UK, US and Australia called the tasting panel. The mss are numbered, and don't have the author's name or book title on it. If you get three 5 star reviews then you are in luck, if you get a borderline with a couple of nos you could still get it published, and must be in the age band they publish, but if you get three nos then you fail and are rejected. The first chapter must be gripping.  There is no general rejection. If you are from the RNA, you can get more feedback, if you are borderline, they must put 'add this,' 'change that' and ask to resubmit. The mss goes to readers first, then to Lynn.  Lynn's advice was to involve the characters and evoke emotions.

They plan to publish 12 novels in 2013, and double that in 2014.

Then it was question time from us: They have a standard contract. Pay all authors the same. Ebooks are different from the print. They don't get agent submissions as they get all rights. And they give you an option on the next novel, which will again go through readers.
I asked about prologues - OK, but have to be important to books.
Top three reasons for rejection - too much research and factual stuff. No erotica. Twists to story. And typos and grammar.
Was asked about getting the ms critiqued before submitting - Yes. Thinks it is good (is mentioned about this on their webisite) and get it as good as you can before you send. They get 50 mss a week, and accept 10. Readers like more male pov than less.
They do work with some agents. Advised to find a good one who will work well with you.  Reckons that more publishers will be accepting mss directly by Xmas.
I also asked what digital platforms they upload their books to - all of them. (Which made me happy).

The second stage of submissions is: you get an email from Lynn for a meeting. Where they will meet you and work out if you fit in with them, as they are liked to a family. As authors help each other. If you are accepted this year, you won't be published until 2014. They will work to make the ms a publishable standard. All readers get info, then to editor, then report to author with changes, 2-3 times, copy edit twice and three proofs then it's publication. 8 weeks before publication, it will go to review.  Book signings aren't done so much now.
Before the 50 Shades.. they managed to achieve sales of 10,000 for one author. It depends on the title and genre whether it will go to book buyers.  Digital can do better than print. Contemporaries are struggling in the US.  They do tend to do free promotion.
They sell rights and work with agents/publishers overseas.

So there you have it. All about Choc Lit. I haven't got anything to send to them right now, but might have in the near future. We shall see.  Are you interested?  They seem to be a really good publisher to work with and Lynn was very nice. A friendly and approachable lady to work with.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Asperger's - The start of my working life

I first began work (I call it work but it was training) back in September 1988. It was what was called at the time 'Youth Training Scheme' and something I think would be good to have these days. I trained in the Pharmacy Dept at Guy's Hospital, which was a small dept with not so many staff. I didn't deal with the public as I did admin work. I mainly did typing and filing, with little phone work. I did this for a year and got on well with only two members of staff there. The head of the dept was OK, but she could be a bit cold at times, same with the supervisor I had.

After that I did part-time admin work in the Personel Dept there. Again this was a small dept and I dealt with only a few members of staff. And once more, I only did admin, mainly typing and filing, rarely answering the phone. Another in the background job.

Whether I had difficulties communicating verbally and by eye with staff I can't remember, but all that changed two months later when my p/t contract ended and I got a full-time job in the Registry. All things changed then, as I had a front-line job dealing with students and staff every day.

Looking back on it now, I think I must've been happier with those background jobs and not having to face the public. And when I did have to face students and staff on a daily basis, my Asperger's begun to kick in. Not so much at first, when there weren't so many students on the courses, but definitely later when the number of students increased a lot.

So, for those of you who are growing up now with AS, I have this advice. Find out what you are comfortable with and go for a job that fits that. I feel that if I had known I had AS way back when I started work, things would be totally different to what they are today and most definitely the situation I am in at the moment. (Might blog about that next time).

BTW, I now have a schedule of sorts for blogging. During the week I will talk about being green or living with Asperger's and at the weekend I will be talking about writing.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Research for Geraldine's Gems series

This is the second time I have written this as I accidentally clicked something and deleted it. So am now annoyed. Up until I began writing series that I self-epublish, I never used to do any research but I do now. Here is what I have done so far for my adult romance series 'Geraldine's Gems'.

One Good Turn - No research for the location as I used my imagination to picture a magical heaven where Geraldine and Keith meet. It is a magical place because when Geraldine wishes for something or wants something, it appears. Eg when she recalls going to the cinema with Keith when they were together, a cinema like the one they went to appears. I can have a good imagination when it comes to magical things. For the two characters I used stock photo websites such as istockphoto or

More Fish in the Sea - I imagined what a corporate office building was like from programmes I've seen on TV and put Mandy and Russ working there in different departments. The canteen where they go for lunch is one I've based on that was like the one at where I used to work. I have just added a scene where they go to have lunch by Southwark Cathedral. I used to work near there, so have used my memory of what it is like. I will Google a picture of it so I can write a more vivid description of it. For Mandy, I used a photo stock image to describe here, and for Russ I used a page out of my mum's mail order catologue and used that page to describe him when he visits Mandy for lunch at her house.

A Trouble Shared - I have used my memory of where I used to work at the start of my working life as the work place for Harry and Carol. The same canteen as above. The situation of how they get together is based on one I remember in real life at work some years ago. Again I used photo stock image websites to base my characters on.

Don't Get Mad - The layout of Sandra's house is based on mine, but the colours I am taking from a page out of a local free mag that came the other day. Her house will be one that was left by her ex husband to her. The health club she goes to, is based on the local one I went to a few months ago and had a tour given to me by one of the trainers there. It was originally based on one I used to go to years ago at work but will change it in the next draft. Also, they go to Horniman Gardens, which is local to me, and I went there a short while ago and the route I took with my mum, is the route they go in the story. When there, I made a note of the best place for a picnic with a child, and that comes out in the story. For the characters, Troy and Sandra, I used a photo website again. They are so good for finding characters.

So, where has your research taken you? And do you use photo image websites for your characters? Let me know.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Composting eggshells - to do or not to do?

I am a keen recycler and composter, and hated it when my mum started to bin eggshells, which then went to landfill. Earlier in the year, when my mum had plants growing, she put eggshells broken up around the plants, only to find snails all round them, when the shells were meant to ward them off. Snails and snugs don't like crawling over bitty things. Then the other week my mum read in her garden magazine a reason not to put them on the compost. Like all cooked foods, they can attract vermin into your garden such as rats etc. Ugh. So, from now on, we put all eggshells into our bin that gets emptied into our black bin for landfill. They don't work around plants now, as they seem to attract snails instead of warding them off, and can attract vermin because they are cooked.

So, what do you do with your eggshells? Any ideas what I can do instead of binning them? I don't fancy rats and that in my garden. Let me know.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Promotion - big and small

On 12 September I went to a SCBWI-BO Professional Series talk by three publicists from major publishers about promotion.

They answered the following questions and told us: publicists are event planners, pitchers and do social media. What is the difference between marketing and publicity? Marketing is advertising and selling, and can overlap with social media. Publicitiy is free and marketing is paid for eg marketing is things like posters and flyers. Publicity is putting them out there. The publicity is done three months before publication of a book.
When they read books, they look at them with the view of commercialism, sales and lists. They read them from reader and publicist views.
And they do Google you as an author, to see what you look like.

What does the publicity plan look like? The basic plan for majority of books is on review makings, social media angle. Then work out what to do as a separate book. There is a template, then look at parts they can expand on. This includes the AI sheet (author information) and its selling point.
How much has changed for their online work? 2/3 was but now 4-5 jobs each. Digital now as well as other tasks. They say that parents' views on books are more important than nationa reviews. It is good that authors be digital and will work on them.
How much is plan, how much luck? Need people to know name of book and author. They constantly feed info to sales. Build a brand. Orion is a career publisher and will keep with you. Building awareness of author. Be opportunistic. Orion lets authors plan school visits themselves. Said that sales from Amazon ranks went up after radio talk. Focus towards sales.
There is a new age range called 'New Adult' which is for 16-26.

Top 5 things to do on a budget: Social media. Start local, inc bookshop, press. Short stories to give as free ebooks from well-known authors based on characters or settings they have written about. (I later said this is a good idea). Make friends with local librarian. Pitch at local festivals. Talk to people who think like journalists. Think of what they went and not want to talk about. Be honest in what you talk about. Exploit what makes your book unique. Events - word of mouth.Go to Edinburgh and see what events are like for authors who write like you. Be true to what you do.
What can authors do to be more helpful to you? Online. Have niche and work on that. Think how you can sell yourself. How book is different. Your backstory. Talk to people. Don't be afraid to talk about what you do.
Trailers - there are some good and bad. Now not so many because was too many at one time. Works better for picture books. Series ones are better than stand-alones. Bloomsbury has a Youtube and FB page.
Sock puppets were mentioned (writers who review their own books under another id):Best to be honest. If their author did it, they'd tell them to stop. Be yourself and know to be so if you're published, then check with publisher before hand.
Group blogs - depends on author but interesting idea.Push the blogs to readers and they point out blogs. Group tours - Good idea. Cautious about cost. Good for Skype events. Google hangout - look ]at where other authors live.
Pay for festivals - Bloomsbury pay for travel and accommodation. If it is outside of publicists range then the organsiser has to pay. Authors have to give a compelling reason to want to do it. If author has book late in, then still send pdf of it and can still go. But if you don't want to do it, then publicists can say no for you.

So there you have it. That is what publicists do and the difference between marketing and publicity.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Recycling plastic bottles - Do you?

I am now merging my naturally greeny blog with this one, as being green is also who I am as well as being a romance and children's writer. I decided this after reading a recent blog post by Kristen Lamb (check out her blogs and ebooks - she is a social media expert).  So, here I am blogging about recycling plastic bottles. Why? Something I read recently in a magazine made me want to write about it. I was originally going to email a letter to the magazine but kept forgetting, so decided to write about it all here.

The magazine was 'Cook Vegetarian' and was on their 'Do Your Bit' page. It was headlined Give your recycling some (plastic) bottle! The plastic bottle was invented in 1947, and did you know, that we get through a massive 15 million of them every day in the UK.  But just under half of these are only recycled. Why?  On one hand this shocked me, on the other it didn't. I remember seeing a TV programme over the last couple of years where members of the public were asked to put in boxes items they thought could be recycled. Most of them didn't realise that plastic bottles could be. Now that is the one plastic that is recycleable everywhere. So, do you recycle all your plastic bottles? It doesn't have to be just the milk bottle, but shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles etc. If you don't, next time you have a plastic bottle or go to chuck it in your black bin (the landfill one) think about this - If we all made the effort to recycle one more bottle every year, then we could save enough energy to power 71,000 plasma screen TVs indefinitely. And every bottle you recycle saves enough energy to power a 60W lightbulb for six hours. (I actually wrote something like this in my second Green children's book, where it saved energy for a computer).

So, do you have the bottle to recycle plastic bottles? This is one of my green messages to you.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Foyles Discovery Day - A tale of pitching to an agent and getting lost

This is a post that combines my writing life and how my Apserger's can affect it, as it surely did yesterday.  Yesterday I went to Foyles Disovery Day, where writers had booked to pitch to an agent face-to-face. I was v lucky to get a place, as someone had dropped out and I managed to get that place. I have not been as far as Foyles before so wasn't quite sure where I was going. I managed to find my way there from Charing Cross Station by asking someone for directions and reading street maps, which helped me a lot. It took me 15 mins to get there, and I was on time.
    I joined the queue and had my name ticked off a list. I waited for a while before I was called in. The agent from Curtis Brown was v friendly. I shook her hand, told her my name, sat down and did my pitch for Boring Billy. She then asked me about it, my background and whom I like to read and inspires me to write what I do. I said Linda Chapman because I love the way she writes about magic and the different types of it. She then read the first page and told me that it was a lovely and simple idea, well-written (all good points for me) but I needed to write more about Billy's feelings and make him more the protaganist doing the moving along rather than a victim. When she said that, I got an idea, which after my pitch I went and wrote down. After those minutes, which were v helpful to me, I went out the room and sat with another author whom I'd met in the queue and from SCBWI and chatted to. Then when the lady who was behind me in the queue came along, we all were taken downstairs to the cafe where we were seated with another person from the agency and asked her questions. Here is what we asked, and I did most of the asking,

Top 3 tips for authors submitting:
1. Make opening and the charcter v strong. Grab the reader.
2.Let the agent know what you do and what the story is about
3.Make sure the ms is as polished as it can be.

I asked if there was a gap in the market for books aimed at 7-9s that appeals to boys and girls. Was told to go onto their blog and ask another agent. This I will do later on.

I also asked what age they thought children start reading from ipads etc. She said probably from when they can  read.

When you submit online, you put your name, genre of ms, and you can choose from a drop-down menu which agent you wish to send your ms to. Or you can choose to send it to the New Writing Team of readers, who will read it and if they like it enough will pass it on to the agents.

Were they selling ebooks now more than print ones? Not yet, but getting there. Sees in the future that they might do ebooks only, and hard backs will come collectable items or just for niche markets and non-fiction.

We had a half hour wait after that until the draw. The first 3 names were of people not in the audience but the fourth was.

Then it was time to go home. And time I got completely lost. I ended up getting two buses back to Charing Cross, as I couldn't find the road again, even though I had come out in to it. I worked out this morning that after I crossed the road, I went left when I should've gone right and back up the road where I had come from. I ended up walking furhter away from where I had started from, so got lost, panicked and upset. This is where my Asperger's kicked in. People with autism don't like going to places where they don't know, and if they do, like me, they get upset.  I now know from his and here are the lessons I have learnt from it, things I should've done:

1. Taken a map with me.
2. When I came out of Foyles, got my bearing and worked out which way I had come from
3. If that doesn't work, then go back into the shop and ask directions.
4.Try not to panic next time. Go back to the start.

In hindsight, I should've taken the map with me, or asked at Foyles. I have learnt also that I work best with a map instead of asking people. I tend to get more confused with people's directions.

All in all though, I was pleased I went to Foyles, as I found it v helpful for my Billy story, which I will change the first page later on with what I have been told.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Revision workshop Part 2 - The Nitty Gritty of revising

On Saturday 8 September I went to Sara Grant's workshop on revision part 2. She called it the nitty gritty of revising. Here is what I learnt, and will use for my revising for future wips.

One of the first things we did was to highlight each scene in our first chapters. Once you have done this, you have to ask yourself these questions?

Where are you?
Do they follow on?
What is the timing and setting?
Is there action?
Is everything in it important?
Can it start later and end sooner?

I found this exercise very useful. I thought I'd cut out plenty of words that weren't needed, but I was wrong after this exercise. I soon found lots more that could be cut and didn't get the story moving. I will definitely use this again for when I revise all my wips.

We also highlighted each verb. Again another useful exercise, as you can see any repeated actions you give your characters. Mine blink a lot.

Flashbacks were mentioned - Sara said see if you can lose them, when you do, do you really need them?
Look at exposition, again do you really need them?
Look at structure of phrase eg he said and physical actions.
Do you have complex sentences? Are they compelling and tight? (Mine aren't). Don't put mundane actions in sentences unless your character lives a mundane life. (Just read this again, and see that this is what I have done for my mermaid story).
Passive verbs - check if necessary. Use find for 'ly' words. Underline nouns.

It was mentioned that when writing for teens, five years before the present day they won't know any TV programmes. This made me think, as I'd mentioned one in Rosie that they prob wouldn't know now, so I have changed it to generalisation.

I think then we were asked to pair up with someone we didn't know, give each other two pages of our mss, and read them.  Then write down at the back what genre, age range you thought it was for, things you gathered about the character. My partner thought Rosie was a coming of age novel. So, have now decided to write about more magic in the first page.

Then we were asked our pet peeves as a reader, and common errors as a writer.  Here are mine:

Pet peeves are: Too much tell and no show (I think this for new authors, as to me, it means they haven't got their ms professionally edited). And too much head hopping, making me confused as to whom is speaking.
Common errors - too much dialogue without action and indication of who's speaking. No character background (this was mentioned to me about my ghost story), and repetition of words. (The above highlighting exercise should now cure that).

One last bit of advice - consider age range for your book and check the wordage.

Overall a very useful workshop, which I will use exercises from for my wips. Thank you, Sara.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Next Big Thing - Indie Exchange


***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog

***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

‘Don’t Get Mad’

Where did the idea come from for the book?

An agony aunt letter in my paper. A woman wrote up to say she was worried about a friend who was sad and mad about her failed marriage.

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Chris Fountain (Tommy Duckworth in Coronation Street) and Kate Beckinsale

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sandra is sad and mad about her failed marriage. Until she gets a visit from her dead aunt Geraldine who advises who to ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’. Sandra joins the local fitness club, meets Troy an instructor and falls in love again.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self. It’s the fourth in a series of seven all linked by the dead aunt.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I am still writing it. I had edits for a YA and a romance novella to do. I hope to finish it by the end of this month, and to my editor end of October.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 Christina Jones’ books. They have magical romance in them.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Christina Jones. As mentioned above, an agony aunt letter inspired me to write it.
Eve Farr. She was going to set up as an epublisher and accepted one story from me, which made me think to do a series of stories linked by the dead aunt. Don't Get Mad is the 4th in the series.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The magic in it. Sweet romance.
I am meant to tag 5 other indie authors, but unfortunately no one wanted to be tagged by me, so it now stops here at my blog.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Having Asperger's and learning to drive

I am continuing my series of blogs about living with Asperger's, by now writing about how having Asperger's affected learning to drive for me.

In 1996 I started driving lessons because I had two v young nephews whom I wanted to see often, and my brother lived in Kent. My first instructor I have to say was rubbish. He was meant to go through with me a book on road signs in each lesson but he didn't. Needless to say, I failed a mock test by going up a road with a no entrance sign on (didn't know what it meant then). It was during one lesson with this instructor that my Asperger's, which I didn't know I had at the time, kicked in. One of the things I was asked at my Asperger's assessment was ' Am I easily distracted?' The answer is yes. Esp with my own thoughts. And this is what happened one lesson. I was driving, and for one moment I thought of something and my mind was taken off driving, and what happened? I nearly crashed into a railing on a corner of a pavement. Thankfully the instructor managed to take control and saved us crashing completely. He had a go at me for that. I was a bit shaken.  I didn't have that instructor long,  He was sacked after the failed mock test.
   I had a second driver who did show me the book and got me improving on my driving. When he felt he had taught me enough, I had a third instructor.

I passed my test on the fourth attempt. The first one I failed because I was using a car that had been adapted for disabled people and I accidentally had flicked the disabled signal.  I didn't know what the noise was, neither did the teacher. So it was a fail. I can't remember why I failed the second one, but the third one I know I failed at my reverse parking up a hill. I hit the curb, and didn't check the wing mirror to see why I couldn't move any more. I learnt from that mistake, and when I had this again at the fourth go, I remembered what to do and I passed. Was I happy?  Very. I have now been driving my car (the same one all these years) for 14 years now and am proud to do so, esp knowing what I have now.

There was a time earlier this year that I made myself very aware of driving with Asperger's, and I think I made a few slight mistakes whilst driving. I feel I am more aware of what I am doing and am more careful than before.

So, my motto from this to anyone who has autism and wants to learn to drive is - if you are easily distracted, try not to be and focus on what you are doing at the time and nothing else.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Launch party for One Good Turn - Day 2

Welcome, everyone, to my blog and to the second day of my online launch party for my first romance enovella 'One Good Turn'. Here is the paperback 3D version of the cover.

What do you think of that? Great, isn't it?  That is the 3rd version now I have; normal 2D, 3D and this one.

So, today's question is this: the premise of the book is that Geraldine dies and goes to Heaven, but she has to earn her place by getting her ex love (her true love) to be a happier and caring man again. I won't tell you how she does it, you have to read it to find out, but this is what my question is based on. Imagine you are Geraldine.  You are at the Gates of Heaven but can only enter if you can romance your ex love, who has to be a true love, so he is a normal loving, caring and happier man again (as he has turned grumpy and angry at where he is).  What do you do to return him back to the love you knew?  The most romantic suggestion will win a prize, to be revealed the end of today.  So, get your thinking caps on and let me know how romantic you can be.

Will be popping in and out to see what comments you give me. See you later. Need to check my emails again.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Blog Party for One Good Turn

I am hoping that my first romance enovella 'One Good Turn' will be out by the end of next week. I am waiting for the final proofs from my editor and the proper sized covers for each website, then it can be all systems go for it. A few days after that, in two weeks time, I plan to have a blog party for a few days to celebrate the start of my romance writing career (there are six more stories to come in the series of this one and I have others, inc a similar story, I have planned). I will put a notice out on FB and Twitter when it comes out, and when the party starts. I need to do a schedule of what I want to do for it, but I do know that there will be a question for everyone to answer relating to the enovella. And there will be a prize for the best answer.

I won't be having a physical launch as yet. If the short story I am currently revising for an anthology coming out in October gets accepted for it, then I will have one for that and include promotion for the romance and my YA novellas.

So, watch out for messages from me announcing the start of a blog party. I can't wait.  See you soon.

My next post will be about the stats of how many ebooks I have sold so far, before the start of my romance series comes out. I want to compare it to what effect having published a romance has on it all, as I have read that romance writers earn 170% more than their peers. We shall see.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Me and Asperger's - Sensory Overload

A couple of months ago, an illustrator friend of mine, mentioned something about her daughter who also has Autism.  She said that her daughter sometimes has trouble coping with the world and at the end of the day she shuts herself off.  This got me thinking about a few incidences I had a few years ago at work, and made me wonder if I had sensory overload - you can't cope with the world and everything that is happening and what you do.  It made me realise that Asperger's isn't always about difficulty communicating with others, but there are other problems.  Here is what happened to me.

A few years ago (about 5-6) I was at work having my lunch. As usual I was reading after I had eaten my lunch.  I had just started reading when my brain went into a fog and it felt like it couldn't take any more information in.  I felt I couldn't cope with doing anything.  It was a struggle to even walk back to my desk.  I ended up in tears and going home. It took me a couple of hours in bed, resting, to get back my energy.

This wasn't the first time it had happened to me. On other occasions it had happened at the end of the day when I was walking home from the train station.  I had got half way home, when my legs felt heavy and seemed to me that they couldn't cope with it all anymore. I started feeling faint and had to stop at the bus stop to rest before I could manage to carry on walking to get home. When I got home, I had to go to bed and rest for a couple of hours. It has always been after a few hours resting that I am able to get up and live normally again.  It has also happened first thing in the morning or during the day.

I have always thought it was a virus, but now I am not so sure.  Could this be sensory overload?  Could my brain have been telling me that it had had enough and couldn't go on and I needed to rest to carry on again?

I would like someone's opinion about this.  If you read this and think yes, it was sensory overload, let me know.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Ebook pricing

Over the last few weeks I have read blogs about pricing ebooks, and there seems to be a bit of a hoo-ha about it.  It seems that some people think that authors should price their books higher because of all the hard work they have done for it. There is also some hoo-ha whether 'free' books are now working, esp with Amazon KDP Select.  I have now decided what price I will put on my ebooks - it all depends on the length, and this is what JA Konrath does.

Short and long short stories under 10K words = .99c (Apart from my first Angel ebook which is now free - as part of the freeway experiment that DD Scott has done. And it has worked. Slowly getting to 5000 downloads)
Anthologies/novellas from 10K to 20K words = $2.99
Novels/Boxed Sets from 20K to 30K words = $3.99
Novels over 30K words = $4.99

So, with that guideline for myself, my next Angel ebook, which is turning out to be a novella and over 10K words, will be priced at $2.99.  At some point, I might reduce it for a while.

So, how do you price your ebooks?  Let me know.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

How I edit

Do you have a plan for editing your mss? I didn't used to, but now that I get proper edits for my YA ebooks I do.  I recently got my edits back for my third Angel ebook and it consists of a lot of work for me to do.  Here is my plan of work for it:

1. Round one: Line edits, where I work down the ms line by line typing the changes.  Then I print the whole thing out.
2. Go through the edits, reading the comments and write down changes according to them. Type them up and print it out.
3. Read through the letter of comments from editor about major changes to make eg the train needs to become closer and closer each time. Write those changes, type them up and print it out.
4. Another major change.  It is currently in two stories, Lizzie's pov then Danny's.  My editor says that the reader will lose interest as it is boring and repetitious, and it is better to have them interact.  So I will go through it, delete any scenes where it is repeated, then work in Danny's pov with Lizzie's pov.  Write those up, type them and print it all out again.
5. Then I will read it through from start to finish, to see if it all makes sense to me and readers. Jot down anything that I think sounds wrong, type them up and print.
6. Hopefully last edit for me, which is my read aloud edit. I read it aloud (when I am on my own) to hear if there is anything that sounds wrong, repetitive or doesn't make sense. Jot those down as I read it, type it up and print.  Read it all again, silently.  Then send back to editor.

I am currently still on round one of the edits. Started yesterday, continue today and next week.  I hope to get them all done by this time next week, so I can continue working on Don't Get Mad once more.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Me and Asperger's - Communicating with staff in a small office

When I first started work back in 1989, the dept was small and there were only six staff members.  The Registrar and his PA, and the two Assistant Registrars and their assistants. I remember my interview. I am sure that I was quiet and didn't hear what they asked me properly.  When I come to think of it, I am positive it was this quietness that made them decide to employ me, and for the AR on one of the sections (there were two - medicine and dentistry) to be able to bully me.  I later found out after a couple of years, that no one liked the AR for medicine. She was one of those people who could be nice to you one minute, then later on talk down to you as though you were beneath her.  The other AR I couldn't talk to really as I felt she was too posh to do so but she seemed nice.  The rest of the staff, inc the Registrar, I got on well with.  One of the assistants whom I shall call Y, was nearer to my age and I got on really well with her and ended up confiding in her about the problems I was having with my dad at the time.  We often talked on the train home as her nan lived near to me.  The other assistant I also got on really well with, so well in fact, that at times I would take the mick out of her accent - she came from Yorkshire.  I also got on well with the Registrar's PA, who teased me sometimes.  The Registrar was nice too, and after a year or two he allowed me to call him by his first name, much to the Medicine AR's shock. She wanted me to call him as Mr...

I remember one occasion when I tried to stand up for myself against the nasty AR, whom everyone hated.  I can't remember exactly what she said, but it must've been in her condescending tone as per usual, that she said something to me, and I tried to retaliate by replying to her in the same tone of voice. It didn't work.  She had a go at me, and I ended up walking out in tears.  I hated her.

A few years later, she got her just desserts.  She caused a major row in our busiest time of year (registration) and was suspended pending investigation.  I was off with a bad cold at the time, and was phoned to say that she had resigned voluntarily.  IMO she was forced to resign, as things couldn't have gone on like they were.

Thinking back now to those first few years of working there, I now know that I did communicate better with a few people instead of a dept of 20.

Next time I blog about Asperger's it will be about something different - sensory overload.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

RNA Meeting on 7 July 2012

On 7 July I went to a RNA chapter meeting. It was meant to be a talk by Kate Allen about festivals, but she couldn't make it. So instead we chose the topics ourselves and then talked about it. 

We had our usual round robin of who is who and what we have got up to.  I mentioned my romance ebook coming out and the letters I have had published.  A few others have self-published ebooks with Amazon and Smashwords, and this was mentioned as a possible further topic to talk about in another meeting - opportunities and self-publishing. 

The first topic mentioned was how to get reviews.  It was said that you should target sites for your genre, but make sure you look at that site first before you target them.  Goodreads is a good site to do giveaways (printed books only), and when you send out your book, you can ask the winner to kindly review your book. (My note: I put my Angel ebooks up there and got reviews without asking.)  You can put review links from Goodreads on to your website.  Your local press is a good option to getting reviews, but not national press.

Another subject was how to send large Word documents to people.  It was suggested to try Google Docs for large downloads.

Then we had our raffle, while we scoffted chocolates and the others drunk champagne, which were brought by Pia, who had a book launched that day. I ate chocolates but didn't drink because I can't drink alchohol.

All in all, it was a nice day.  I enjoyed meeting other authors who have self-published ebooks like me.

Friday, 6 July 2012

My non-fiction brand

I have finally worked out what my non-fiction brand is.  I have just read 'Tricked out toolbox', an ebook by Melissa Bourbon and Tonya Kappes, and something I read in this made me figure it out.  It says that for non-fiction, your brand is your platform and credentials.  So I got thinking.  What is my platform?  And it is natural health, healthy eating and being green.  My credentials are as follows (in that I have had letters in these magazines):

Green Parent, Natural Health, Healthy and Sainsbury's.  These are the main magazines that I have had lots of letters in over the last several years. I have also had letters in local and national papers about the above subjects and TV programmes about the subjects.  I have just started to write about wildlife, as I have got a letter in the last issue of The Lady about the ravens at the Tower of London.  Come to think of it, I write short stories about a kitten and a squirrel, and articles about the types of birds I get in my garden, for a small press magazine.

So, here is what I think my brand for non-fiction is:

Author of natural health, healthy eating, green and wildlife non-ficion

So, do you write non-fiction?  If so, what is your brand, when you think about your platform and credentials?

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Me and Asperger's - communicating with staff in a large office

When the college merged with another one, with it came more students and more staff, so the dept had to expand.  We moved to another building, and took up the whole floor.  The counter area where I worked was at least twice the size of the one I had been used to.  We had to have more staff.  Over the years, staff came and went.  This was hard for me anyway - getting to know someone, only for them to move on. In the time that I was there, I got to know some people really well and others not so.  I believe myself to be a friendly and approachable person (and I'm sure that was what I was called by the interviewers for the p/t jobs I didn't get).  There are a couple of people whom I will mention here by initial only that I remember it took me a while to get to know.  I don't know if it was him or me, but it took me a while to get to know and talk to chattily to D, who had taken over as one of the Assistant Registrars.  Once I did get to know him and talk to him, he proved to be a nice man, and an approachable one.  The other person, who is still there today, was C.  She is a very nice lady.  It took me a while to get to be friendly to her.  She did say to me before I left and I suspected I had Apserger's, that she did wonder if something like that was up with me.  She had previoulsy dealt with people with special needs inc autism, and so had seen how it affects people.  C is a very nice lady, and she helped me at the end to see someone about possibly having Asperger's and I talked to her.

There were a few people in the dept that I didn't really talk to that much.  Again, I don't know if it was them or me, but the person I am thinking of to me didn't seem that approachable to me.  Maybe I didn't get the chance to find out.  Others in the dept were all nice to me, esp the two ladies I was v close to, M and G.  M was my team leader, and she was v supportive to me in times of crisis and when our other colleague wasn't nice to both of us.  Both M and G came over from the other campus when the colleges merged.  I think that I got on with them so well because they are both genuinely nice people, esp M, and are definitely friendly and approachable.  I still keep in touch with them.

There is one other person that I will briefly mention here, and she was my other colleague at the counter area, and I shall call her R.  I had known her from before when she worked in another dept.  She was transferred to us, when temps left.  At first she seemed to be OK with us, and got on with us. But over time, it came to light that she had issues with her past and she didn't forget them.  I feel that this really affected the way she behaved to us in the end.  It took a few years for her to start showing her true colours, when she first started to shout and be nasty to our managers.  Then the nasty (and what I call bullying) behaviour turned to me and M.  I won't go into it here (prob in my biography later) but on one occassion we had miscommunication and she had a go at me and I ended in tears.  At the end of my working life there, she had turned really horrible, going against what M said to do with documents and doing her own thing.  On the last day there, she showed her true colours to me, and I knew she would do this, she phoned in sick. She didn't want to see me to say goodbye.

So after writing all this, I have come to one conclusion: that is I can only get on with a few people at a time and not a big dept of staff. 

Next time, I shall write about how I communicated with staff before the merger and when we were a small office.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Romance writing success

I first started writing romance in 2000 (or it might've been 1999), after I had a dream that wouldn't go out of my brain. So I decided the only way it would, was to write it down.  Once I began writing, the ideas kept on coming.  I have written 4-5 romance mss over the years but none of them have come to anything - yet.  I have had the odd romance short story published is small press magazines but nothing major - until now.  2012 is the year that my romance writing is finally taking off.  I signed a contract with an epublisher at the start of the year for six short stories that are linked by one character, and the first one is hopefully out end of this month.  It is called 'One Good Turn' and is about Geraldine, who has died and gone to Heaven. But she can only enter Heaven if she gets her ex lover back to the happy and nice person she used to know, and in doing so, she finds love again and becomes a better person.  Then decides she wants to help her relatives on Earth and show them she can be a nice person - and there are the following stories.  It has now been extended to seven stories.

But...before they are released I have had another success.  I recently had a story called 'The Cameo Brooch' published on a website called Box of Words  It is available for 99p or $1.55 (if you live in US/Canada).  I have had one person buy my story so far. The story is about Archie, who finds a cameo brooch from his aunt, and doesn't know why his customers won't buy it.  Until he meets the woman of his desires, she buys it and it treats her right - it has previously hurt its other customers.  If you like romance with magical realism (the brooch has magical powers), then you will like this story.  Go on, I dare you, check it out.  Oh yes.  And 20% of the proceeds go to MacMillan Cancer Support.  Please help fellow authors and a charity at the same time.

So with the short story out there, and my first major romance ebook soon to come out, my romance writing is finally bearing fruit.  Hurrah.  I have an idea already for my first romance novel, which I plan to start work on next year and hopefully get accepted too.