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.