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.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Interview with Tonya Kappes

Tonya Kappes, who lives in the US, is an indie author.  She has recently self-published the first in a new series of ebooks called 'A Charming Crime'.

You are an indie author.  Why did you choose that route?
        Originally I was with a small publisher, but I quickly realized that there was nothing I couldn’t   do that they were doing and keeping the money for myself. After I left the publisher, I tried my hand at it and haven’t looked back. BUT I’m a big believer in doing it all. I call it the Hybrid Author. I will always self publish and will entertain any deal my agent brings me.
How long did it take for your first ebook to become a success?  (I’ve read it can take up to three years).
       I’m a little different than the average. My first book hit Amazon’s movers and shakers list in under three months. I sold 52k books in three months which includes 5k print copies. With that said, I went without sleep and marketed until my eyes were popping out of my head! All of my novels have become best sellers within the first eight hours of release. But I contribute that to my marketing and promoting plans.
      Everyone continually asks me about how I did it, so I wrote a non-fiction book, The Tricked Out Toolbox ~ Marketing and Promoting Tools Every Writer Needs that has every tip and trick I use to market every single one of my books.

Tell us what ‘The Charming Crime’ is about?

Here is the blurb:
                                                 Bubble... Bubble...

June Heal has nothing to lose when she relocates her homeopathic cure shop, A Dose of Darla, from the flea market booth in her home town, to a quaint shop in the cozy but unusual little town of Whispering Falls, Kentucky. Or so it seems.

                                                  Cures and trouble...

Whispering Falls has a lot of secrets. From talking snow globes to whispering animals not to mention a few sprinkles of fairy dust, June realizes Whispering Falls is more magical than she thought. . .literally.

                                                      Magic stirs...

June discovers she was born into a family of psychics, and her homeopathic cures truly are magical. Unfortunately, they are not magical enough to save her from being the number one murder suspect when a member of the community that she had just had a disagreement with shows up face down in the lake with June’s lucky charm in the victim’s grasp.

                                                  And troubles double...

Add to that an attraction to her high school best friend, Sheriff Oscar Park and  Mr. Prince Charming, her cat, is stealing charms from Belle’s Baubles, June is forced to clear her name in more ways than murder. After all, they don’t have cauldrons in jail.

It was a really fun novel to write because everything in it is made up in my own little world. I’ve never made up a place before and this was really fun!

Have you thought of being a ‘hybrid’ author?  One that gets traditionally published and self-published.
    I sort of answered that above, but one of my biggest pet peeves are the writers who say, “Traditional publishing is a crime! I’ll never do it! I want to be in control of my career! I don’t need a gatekeeper!” Those writers drive me BONKERS!!! And vice versa with writers saying that about self-published authors. I’m a BIG believer into do it all! Why not? I was already with a small publisher and I won’t do that again, but I do want a traditional book because it was my original dream. I know there is a lot more money in self-publishing (most of the time) and I will never stop self publishing, but my goal was never to become a millionaire. My dream was to reach readers with my stories, help them escape the day-to-day grind. I love my readers. I cater to them on my STREET TEAM by hosting weekly prizes that range from gift cards to books. We have become a great group of friends.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an indie author?  And to someone who has just started out on their indie journey (like me)?
     Keep writing! Keep reading! AND start marketing yourself TODAY even if you don’t have a book out there. I started marketing myself three years before I put a book out.

The obvious question.  Where do you get your ideas from?
      I get my ideas from EVERYWHERE. I know every writer says that, but since I write a lot of mystery, I hear a quirky story and think, “hmmm. . .that would be a funny character in my book. What would happen if their quirk was related to a murder but they aren’t the killer?”

7. Are you a plotter or a pantser? I write an outline of each chapter first, then write the ms.
Planter....combo of both. I always know the beginning, middle, and end. Since I write mystery, I write backwards. You have to start with the murder and why they were murdered. I write and write until about halfway through, then I will start loosely outlining the final chapters so I don’t miss a clue or red-herring to solve the crime.

Thanks, Tonya, for your insight into being an indie author.  I shall certainly go and buy your ebook, it sounds like a fun read.
Thanks so much! I really enjoyed being here. Cheers!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Me and Asperger's - work 2000-2010

In 1999 the office moved from being a small office to a whole floor in another building. This was because the number of students that were being accepted on to the two courses had increased.  And this was when I feel now that my Asperger's (unknown at the time) started to kick in.  Up until then I was used to dealing with a fair number of students, but with a bigger office more students came in to be dealt with.  I thought that I was dealing with the students well, but it turned out that I wasn't.  I didn't know this until we had what was called staff appraisals.  Informal interviews with the team leader about your progress over the year.  It was in these appraisals that two main issues were brought up, time and time again.  They were: my tone of voice with the students and lack of eye contact with students - keep looking at the students when speaking to them.  (Two symptoms of Asperger's I know now).  Each year I said I would try my best to rectify these problems, but each year it was mentioned again. Some students I would speak to OK with, as they were nice people, esp if they were appreciative of our work we did for them.  (I mean giving us presents of biccies, choccies etc).

Then in 2010 when I found out I had failed the interview and had read the articles Mum had read, I had a reason for the above two problems.  After I read them, I took them into work, scanned them into my leader's machine, I will call her M for security reasons, and asked her to read them, taking in mind what had been said by her to me about the problems I had had communicating with students.  She did.  She said that it was possible that I did have Asperger's. 

Now that I have been diagnosed with Asperger's, I am relieved that there was a reason for my attitude towards students, and it wasn't my fault.

That was working with undiagnosed Asperger's and dealing with students.  Next time I might post about working with Asperger's and communicating with staff in the dept.

See you next time.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Book covers and why they are important

On Tuesday I went to the talk run by the SCBW-BI about book covers.  There was a panel of three people: David Fickling the publisher, Eleanor Updale the author and David Bean the cover designer. As usual I wrote pages of notes, so will try to condense it all into one post this time.

DF said there are no rules how to do it but important that the makers make it.  He wants books to be picked up.  Always think of the children.  How to show text so people want to pick it up.  He likes the texture and feel of covers.  Must have touching qualities that present the text.  He encourages the designer to put as much as themselves into the cover as possible so it draws you in.

EU said that sometimes readers take to books that authors and publishers think they won't.  One way to put off readers is to put the books in an age range too young.  Children don't like to been seen with books that are inappropriate for them.  Sometimes the book covers can have a bad knock-on effect on authors: example was a book for boys that had a purple cover and so it didn't sell well. 

DF then said that the tone of the story should be on front of book. Choose a good maker.  EU said have artist read the book.  Eu said that pb covers say a lot about the readers and can exclude some.  Eg her own book Johny Swanson. The hb was suitable for all ages, even adults, but the pb was more geared towards teens.  The hb cover reflects the whole book while the pb one is just a scene from the book.

It was mentioned about whitewashing characters on covers.  DF tries not to.  DB did his best with Candy's book.  DF said that most of his work is research.  The process is getting the brief, working on sketches to find the best one.  He says he listens.  Is open to what's coming in.

Spot varnish and embellishments were mentioned, and both David's don't get involved. EU says that it can be waste of time.  Then another major point was mentioned in decisions.  One change is decided by a committee.  Nobody is there in the meeting who thinks it's their baby.  DF said the change is done on research.  EU said not for readers.  And when it goes away for publication, it's like your child going away for a gap year and coming back and you see some good and some bad.

It came to relationships then. EU said the best ones are the ones you have face-to-face.  Their more common than thought.  Keep an eye on your book.  Writers can influence covers.  DF said it's a personal thing.  Find someone that you think recognises what you can do and you can work with, with you and the reader.  It is valuable to show the work and it thrills and amuses them.  Important that they have opinion or way or the other.  Some covers aren't recognised at the same time, and DF says that that time can come.  And - find someone who you can trust and not manipulate.  I agree with that, as I have found a good editor for my romance work, and a good designer for my YA work.  Both of whom I trust and have worked well with.