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Category Archives: Indie Publishing

Heroes & Villains & other brouhahhah

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Have I told you all how much I love blog tours? Once upon time, authors had to actually get dressed (okay, so I do have *some* clothes on, don’t worry) and leave the house to interact with readers—unless those readers were stalkers, but that is a villainous topic for another day. Now, we just go on tour virtually, linking up with the blogs of other “Authorpreneurs” who have had the nous to self-publish their works. That creates a huge network of authors and readers and maximises our opportunities for getting our books read and your opportunities for getting cool free stuff—all while we’re sitting at home wearing whatever the hell we like and hammering out our next masterpiece while sucking down a bowl of ramen noodles (the author dietary supplement of choice, for financial reasons).

Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in Martin Bolton’s stupendous Heroes and Villains Blog Hop, running from 3-6 May 2013 on twenty-eight awesome author blogs. As well as writing a piece on the villains in Cruxim and how I came to make them so dastardly, I’m also giving away stacks of great swag, including books, an Amazon gift card, and jewellery (which you can check out down there *insert downward arrows dammit* at the bottom of the post). Better yet, every one of the 28 fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction authors on the tour is also giving away fabulous prizes for readers, so make sure you hop along to all of the blogs listed at the end of this post, check out their books, and enter their competitions too.

So here goes … my little post filling you in on the evil workings of my own noggin.

The Characters you Love to Hate

As an editor by trade, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told authors that they have weak villains.  When writing villains, authors have to ensure that not only is their badass just as memorable as the protagonist, but that his or her motivations are just as clear and grounded in aspects of the villain’s past and his or her personal and psychological development. In real life, sometimes it seems that we see people (hopefully from behind the safety or a TV screen, or simply in a newspaper, rather than in real life) who seem to be just straight-out plain evil monsters. We’ve all seen the news stories that made us shudder at the depths of human depravity. Sometimes, it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to such cruelty, but dig a little deeper and there is often a profile to such killers: a number of factors (not causes, let’s not make excuses for it) that might lead to the kind of evil that serial killers or psychopaths indulge in.

If you’re an author like me, you’re probably a little bit fascinated by the psychology behind killers. What makes them do it? How can they live with themselves? How did they get away with it? When I was writing Cruxim, I wanted Amedeo to be faced with villains who weren’t just out to get him for the hell of it, but who actually had chips in the game. It would have been easy for my Vampire villain, Beltran, to just hate Amedeo because he is a Cruxim—after all, Cruxim eat Vampires. I’m pretty sure gazelles are not too fond of lions: same dynamic. But I wanted Beltran, who is also the primary Villain in the ongoing saga and appears in later novels, to have a real reason to hate Amedeo aside from the sheer circumstance of the supernatural food chain.

That reason became Joslyn—primarily Beltran’s love for the mortal-turned-vampire, and her enduring love for Amedeo, even as he forsakes her. I drilled down to what I thought were the major psychological issues Beltran had to deal with (and again, readers will find out more about some of Beltran’s background issues in book II in the series, Creche, which I hope to have out by July. So if you don’t want to read a very slight *spoiler* look away now). Abandoned by his father as a young boy, Beltran turned his feelings of helplessness into a craving for power. At first, it was just the power to defend himself and those he loved, such as his sister Evedra. But in his longing for it, power became a kind of lust for him. When he became a vampire and finally had that power, he was unable to control either the power or the lust. It manifested as a need to dominate others, particularly women, physically. But when he meets Joslyn, he falls in love with her innocence. He hates Amedeo not only because Ame truly represents the kind of pure, honorable power Beltran once craved, but also because Joslyn loves Amedeo for that sense of honor and hates Beltran for the perverted way he abuses his own power.

The other major villain in Cruxim is Dr. Claus Gandler, who I’ve found has given many readers shivers even more than Beltran. When I was stripping down his character to the bare bones (which is not a bad analogy for Gandler, given his predilection for torture and amputation), I revisited the biographies of some of the most heinous real-life villains in human history. Seriously, you couldn’t make up the kind of horrors these men inflicted on innocents. I wish I could scrub some of the things I read while researching Gandler’s character right out of my head. Among these beasts was Josef Mengele, the abhorrent, seriously depraved physician of the Nazi’s Auschwitz concentration camp, a man known as the Angel of Death. Not only did he personally order jews and those of other ethnic minorities to the gas chambers, Mengele also conducted appalling experiments into heredity upon twins and on others he considered abnormalities of nature, such as those who suffered from dwarfism or heredity conditions. Not even children were spared Mengele’s terrors. I also spent some time studying the hateful practice of travelling “freak shows” in the 18th and 19th centuries. As an Aussie author, I’d read a bit about them before, because unfortunately many Australian Aborigines were taken to Europe and exploited at such shows and “world fairs”, incorrectly portrayed as cannibals or imbecile savages.

I also considered how in real life those who come into close conflict with certain afflictions sometimes come to hate others who suffer from them, and I posited how Gandler might feel if he had a child who suffered from a “freakish” disorder. What if his only son, Fritz, was killed directly as a result of having that disorder: a rare blood condition in which he produced too much blood, making him a target for vampires? Would Dr Gandler understand other “freaks” (and I use the inverted commas because I recognise that these were simply unlucky people who suffered from medical conditions), or would he hate them and use them to try to get to the bottom of vampirism, would he exploit them for his own ends? I decided to make him hate the other “freaks” he collects for all that they represent—his inability to protect his son Fritz, his hatred of hereditary imperfections. That hatred of freaks, and his desire to understand how to correct/avoid such conditions and how to end Vampirism, leads to the horrible acts of torture and “experiments” he carries out. It is only when faced with his own imminent death that Gandler makes the decision which will eventually lead to his downfall. To my mind, Gandler is a particularly evil character because of the clinical way he goes about collecting and dissecting his freaks. His is a controlled, careful kind of insanity, and sometimes that is more dangerous than all-out “batshit crazy” (a phrase which I suppose applies to Beltran in some ways).

So did I achieve what I wanted to do with these villains? Yes and no. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time letting Amedeo vanquish his foes. But in the heat of a battle, there is not really time to stop and crow over victories, however large or small; all of that must come after, and will to a certain extent in Creche. And as for Beltran … well, you’ll all just have to tune in to the next episode to see what happens to Beltran’s perverted power, and to find out how he gained such a power in the first place.

You’ve hung in this far, AWESOME. So, here’s what am I giving away?

Cruxim_cover_small* Two signed, personally addressed paperback copies of Cruxim.

* Three ebook copies of Cruxim (which the lucky recipients can have signed at http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/Authorandeditor).JW270-1

* A $10 Amazon gift card.

* The adorable sterling silver cross below right (a little larger than in the pic, which is not to scale).654459837_o

* And one of the beautiful angel wing bellybutton rings (far right, also not to scale.)

All you have to do is like my page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KarinCox.Author and leave a message on the Heroes and Villains Blog Hop thread there to tell me which prize you’re most after.
OR, Follow me on twitter @Authorandeditor.com and either tweet about the #villainsandheroes blog hop or RT my tweet about the #villainsandheroes blog hop.
Leave a message on the comments below, to let me know you have entered. Every one of these actions constitutes one entry for each of the prizes. So if you like my page, tweet, and comment, that is three entries. The more entries, the better your chances to win.

Also, make SURE you pop past the blogs of these other 27 incredible indie-published authors, like their pages and enter their competitions too! And lastly, thanks again for joining me. I hope you’ve enjoyed the hop.

Nyki Blatchely
Martin Bolton
Mike Cooley

Eleni Constantine
Joanne Hall

Jolea M Harrison
Tinney Sue Heath
K. Scott Lewis
Paula Lofting
Liz Long
Peter Lukes
Mark McClelland
M.Edward McNally
Sue Millard
Rhiannon Douglas
Ginger Myrick
David Pilling
Kim Rendfeld
TL Smith
Tara West
Keith Yatsuhashi

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Two surveys highlight the “satisfaction divide” between indie and trade-published authors

There’s been a lot written about the so-called divide between trade-published authors and indie, or self-published, authors over the blogosphere, and I’m afraid to say I’m about to add to the reams of virtual paper devoted to it. Two recently published surveys combine to underscore some of the key problems traditional publishing houses, or the Big Six (as these large publishing conglomerates are commonly known) might face when it comes to hanging on to their authors. They also draw stark contrast between the satisfaction levels of self-published and trade-published authors.

The first survey, the Taleist Self-publishing Survey, truthfully titled Not a Gold Rush, collated the results of 1007 self-published authors and asked about practices, attitudes, pricing, sales, and their satisfaction with their publishing efforts (Catherine Ryan Howard does a good break-down over on Catherine, Caffeinated).

The second—conducted by Harry Bingham’s editorial consultancy The Writers’ Workshop (with the help of the Society of Authors, The Crime Writers Association and The Romantic Novelists Association)—was based on the answers of 321 trade-published authors, asking them how they felt about publishers’ editing, cover art, and marketing. It also asked several telling questions about whether those authors would stick with their current publishers, and found that 40% of the respondents said they would move to a new house if “a reputable publisher offered [the] same advance”!

All in all, the Writers’ Workshop survey appeared to suggest that trade-published authors are happy with the editorial and creative input of publishers, but that the marketing and communication aspects seemed to leave a lot to be desired, and the way of the future, for the majority of authors, appears to be self-publishing (although for some, there was only a grudging acceptance of that).

The Wash-up of the Writer’s Workshop Survey

The participants’ biggest complaint seemed to be about marketing (and, unsurprisingly, indies like to moan about marketing, too). It seems from the study, that one of the major drawcards of going with a trade publisher—the marketing and publicity—may have been taken off the table. The marketing may be marginal or less than an author would do themselves as an indie (although given the lack of consultation and communication, it may be true that authors were simply unaware of marketing efforts). Only 19.7% of respondents said they were closely consulted about their publisher’s marketing plans, and 33.0% (the most respondents for that question) said “there was no attempt at consultation.” Worse still, in another marketing question 38.4% of respondents answered the question “Did you feel the eventual marketing campaign made good use of your skills, knowledge, passion, contacts and digital presence?” with “What marketing campaign? I never noticed one!” And a paltry 14% said they were “very happy” with their publisher’s marketing campaign.

Long lead times were problematic (46.6% rating it as the aspect of trade publishing they most disliked) as were “inadequate payments” (45.8%) and “insufficient consultation over the process (“42.4%)—something that self-publishers certainly can’t complain about! Communication was also a point of contention for some, with a combined 47% of respondents saying that communication was either “poor” or “tailed off” following publication of their book. 45.8% of participants were never even asked for feedback about their experience by the publishing house, answering “Nope. No one ever asked me what I thought” and guidance about the process at large was also on the slim side, which disgruntled 36.7% of participants.

And, in case you were wondering: the all-hallowed advance, for 40.1% of respondents, was not a multimillion dollar affair but a meager $5000.

When respondents were asked whether they might consider “cutting out a publisher altogether” to self-publish on Amazon, a whopping 74% appeared to be in favor of it (although, of those, 37.4% would be hesitant and saw it as a serious step to take). That left just 26% committed to having “a publisher to guide [them].” Dark days indeed. I, for one, can see why. If all the big publishers really have to offer is editorial, jacket and design influence, which savvy freelancers are now providing at reasonable rates to self-publishers, and a $5000 advance on royalties with little or limited marketing or input to back up sales, then they’re in trouble, big trouble.

In contrast, 44% of the self-published authors who participated in the Taleist survey said they found their self-publishing venture successful (with a further 51% admitting it was too soon to make that judgment). Only 5% were dissatisfied enough to call their venture “unsuccessful.” More telling, when the Taleist participants were asked, “Knowing what you know now, would you self-publish again?” an overwhelming 90% responded, “Yes, definitely” (no jumping ship here) and 93% of participants also said they would recommend self-publishing to other authors.

For me, it represents a real shift in author thinking. Where once the benchmark for author happiness was getting a trade publishing deal and holding a print book in your hand, it now appears that doing it yourself, and selling books online or in print, may be more likely to keep the smile on your face.

I have also been conducting a survey of my own on indie publishing promotional practices, and you can participate here. So far, more than 117 people have responded, but I would love more. The results will be published free in future on a new promotional website that is currently in production, and will help guide relevant content on that site. With just ten quick multiple choice questions, it takes minimal time to complete, and I’d welcome your feedback. Who knows maybe we can add more data that will help other authors decide which route they think will benefit them the most?

 

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Promotion and other evils

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Cage Life has had a facelift

Promotion is a funny thing, isn’t it? So time consuming. So draining. And yet, so very necessary for indie authors. I tallied up my total sales last night from the time I first put Cage Life out there on display as a kind of e-publishing experiment. With three books for sale, less than a year after my “experiment,” I have managed to place more than 29,000 books in the hands of readers. To be fair, the vast majority of those (easily 90%) were giveaways, with Growth having always been free and both Cage Life and Hey, Little Sister enjoying good free runs (either as part of Select or pre-select in the FREE boom days).

While that may look like a lot of books, my earnings have been less spectacular, hovering at just over $120. Part of that is because of the freebies, part is that I priced at $0.99 for a long time before I decided to trial a higher price, and part of it is that I’m far from selling the number I would like to be shifting each month. Had I released a novel by now, I might see more of an upswing in sales. It is difficult, I think, to sustain interest in short stories, poetry and children’s books, and the only solution is to ensure I take more time out for me to write. But … I have been countering that with consoling myself that if even one percent of those readers return when I next publish a book, that will be 290 readers I might not have attracted before. I’ve also changed Cage Life’s cover a little in an effort to boost sales, and have been busily sending off more review requests. As a result, I’ve received some wonderful reviews this week (which couldn’t have come at a better time, as health issues have made it a tiring, long and emotional week for me). The lovely mother and daughter team over at Parent’s Little Black Book of Books have reviewed both Cage Life and Hey, Little Sister for me and have given both five-stars, which was a fabulous surprise. You can see the review for my children’s book here, and if you write for kids, young adults or adults, I highly advise you to contact Loretta or Karen, who are both extremely quick and professional.

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It’s been a tough week, but 5-star reviews for Hey, Little Sister have helped put a smile on my face.

To counter my own little promotional dilemmas, I’ve also been hard at work compiling information for the free review sites ebook (which keeps getting pushed back but should now be a goer for June) and also the Indie Review Tracker Website, which is under production with a web guru at present. It should make it much easier for everyone to find reviewers, relevant forums and facebook pages, advertisement space, indie service providers and a whole lot more … yes, it just keeps getting bigger and better, and I just keep getting tireder and tireder. No matter, it will be well worth it when it comes out and I really hope others see it as a valuable tool that reduces their promotional time and “takes the puzzle out of promoting.” I’m currently looking for authors willing to guest post about their promotional experiences, so if you’re a strong blogger and you have great advice for authors, email me on karinwork@hotmail.com with “Indie Review Tracker Guest Blog” in the title.

The question is: would I have it any other way? The past ten months have been among my busiest ever (not least due to motherhood), and I’ve written more work for me and been more proactive at promoting my books than ever before. I’ve given a lot of thought this past month to what I aim to achieve with self-publishing. It started out as an experiment, and to be honest it still feels like one some days. Sometimes it feels incredible. Sometimes it feels like the goalposts are constantly shifting. Sometimes it feels like a crapshoot. A recent survey I wrote for indies discussing promotion, which you can go and complete here if you like, currently shows that of the more than 100 respondents 86% were either Extremely Satisfied or Moderately Satisfied that they self-published. (Note: All results of the survey will be published on the Indie Review Tracker site as soon as it goes live.) At present, I fall within the Moderately Satisfied crew. I know there is more I can to do to push my level up to Extremely Satisfied (more guest blogging, for instance, paid advertising, and more blogging in general, forging stronger connections, being involved in more indie community initiatives, and writing more books!) and that my promotional efforts will win out in the end, and if they don’t, I also know that books that ten months ago were available only on my computer hard-drive, now grace the libraries of 29,000 ebook readers … and surely that is worth something. 🙂

 

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Spam-I-am. [My Dr. Suess-style homage to anti-spam]

That Spam-I-am,
That Spam-I-am,
I do not like that Spam-I-am.

Buy it! Buy it!
Won’t you try it?
You may like it. You will see.
Buy it! Buy it. Buy my book.
You can read it on a Nook.
You can read it on a Fire.
Buy it—it’s my heart’s desire.

I will not read it on a Nook!
I will not read it on a Fire!
I will not read your stupid book!
Revulsion’s all that you inspire.

But you can read it on a tram!
Would you read it on a tram?
Or on the train? While giving birth?
Anywhere on God’s green earth!

I will not read it with a baby,
that’s definitely, not even maybe!
I WILL not read it on a tram!
Please fuck off with all your spam.

You’ll read it on your Mac, I think.
Just go here, download this link.
Buy it! Buy it! Just you try it!
Or I’ll drive you to the drink.

On my Mac I will not read it!
Really, I just do not need it!
Quit it! Quit it! Just you look.
I will not buy your stupid book!

But I’ve reviews—reviews, you see!
Not one or two or even three.
Four stars—five after another.
Some not even from my mother.

I will not buy your stupid story.
I am not a fan of gory,
nor of romance, or of chick lit.
Seriously, I WILL NOT BUY IT!

But I self-edited several times,
removing all the indie crimes.
It’s good! I think it’s even GREAT.
Try it. Buy it, won’t you mate!

I’m not the mate you think I am.
Stop tweeting me your frigging spam.
And did you post it on my page?
That really put me in a rage.
Your bloody, shitty Spam-I-am
is all over the web. Goddamn!

Sample! Sample!
Please, I’ve ample.
You could even win this car,
if you give it a five-star.

I will not sample, nor review.
You cover seems to make me spew.
Your author profile’s just not cool.
And did you finish primary school?

Buy it! Buy it! Now it’s free.
Try it now, and you will see.
I know my grammar’s slightly shocking,
But I WILL BE Amanda Hocking.

Not paid. Not Free. Not with a Kindle.
Your spamming really is a swindle.
Your work sucks BAD, take it from me.
I’ll return it even when it’s FREE!

Well, here’s a gift. I DM’d you.
Pass it on to someone new.
Or read my blog and you’ll agree
The next big indie hit is me!

A gift! Well thanks, that can’t be bad.
I’ll use the voucher for my dad.
Buy him something else for Nook.
I will not, WILL NOT buy your book!

Like it! Like it, then. Or tag it.
Tweet it! Goodreads it! Just snag it.
Get it now—99 cents.
Come on, you’ll like it. It’s intense.

I will not like it! I won’t tag it!
I’d much rather just to bag it.
Might even put you on the list.
Of authors ALWAYS to be missed.

Try it on Sony? Mobipocket?
Come on! Help me to “John Locke-it”
Two more reviews and then I think,
I’ll put it on Pixel of Ink.

Not PoI, not KND.
I will not buy your book, you see.
You’ve done your dash.
You’re much too rash.
Why must you keep on spamming me?

You think I’m spamming?
Wham-bam-mamming?
I thought we were interacting.
My whole mail list I’m contacting.

Sigh! Just listen Spam-I-am,
You’re shouting, trolling, drive-by-shooting.
All I hear is your horn tooting.
All you do all day is cram,
my inbox full of all your spam.

Here’s a thought: just let me be.
Stop blasting your damn book at me.
If it’s worthy of my shelf,
I’ll find your bloody book myself.
Then if I like it, I’ll review it.
Honestly. There’s nothing to it.

Blog or tweet some other links,
stop spamming groups with stuff that stinks,
quit being pushy in your greed,
and I might keep you on my feed.
Just be truthful and polite,
and I might buy your book
… just might.

 

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On editing and praise-singing…

Listening to the author and understanding his or her vision is vital. Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosengrant/4255321476/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Here I am enjoying a lovely sleep-in, courtesy of my wonderful partner (who has put up with Selena’s sooking for several hours this morning) and meanwhile David Gaughran is singing my praises over on his very popular blog! Thanks Dave. I couldn’t ask for a lovelier author to work with, and such a go-getter too.

I wanted to weigh in to say that I believe several factors, above all others, make an edit effective, but this got way to long to post over there, so here it is instead. The first—and I think the most important element of successful editing—is that the editor respects the author’s work so that the “essence” of the work remains intact (how very existentialist of me). That doesn’t mean a sentence can’t be completely flipped on its end and made better for it, that a paragraph or even a subplot can’t be deleted, or that a scene shouldn’t be rewritten from scratch, but that the “point” of the sentence, the paragraph or scene remains the same, although enhanced by the change.

I notice someone mentioned in the comments on Dave’s post that their editor amended colloquial language crucial to the story, and that is a case where the editor has failed to understand the essence of the work. As an editor, part of the process is understanding that this is the author’s work, not your own, and that there may be parts that irk you but may not necessarily bother the “average” reader, or aspects that are critical to the character portrayal and “feel” of the work, even if they bend the “rules” somewhat. (And let me tell you, when it comes to fiction most rules can bend and several should be entirely snapped in half and thrown in the trash).

Authors should ensure they seek a sample edit, but they also need to instruct the editor if there are elements they specifically do not want changed. The editor may still make suggestions if something really bothers them, but will then know not to spend a lot of time on those sections of the text. Another must-have element is an author who maintains an open mind and doesn’t let his or her ego determine what gets changed, but instead employs logic, critical reasoning, or even intuition to the process of amending work. Some authors instinctively know what is right for their work and their characters, and that is a wonderful thing. Ego, however, makes a very poor proofreader.

I don’t think any freelance editor expects that an author will accept 100% of their changes, but when an author is able to critically assess those recommendations and cherry pick the ones that work for a story that is a wonderful thing too. Apparently, I have about a 90% to 95% “acceptance” rate for my suggested changes with my clients. Would I like it to be higher?—sure. I’d love it to be 99%. “Ninety-nine percent?” you ask. “Why not 100%?” Well, you see, I don’t want my authors to be automatons. I don’t want them to just blindly take my word for it; I want them to learn how to make editorial decisions for themselves. The author is the master of their own words and they must also be judge, jury, and executioner. I need to grant them the right to be that.

Much of an editor’s job is persuasion and negotiation. In order for them to see the value in my changes, I must explain those amendments to them in such a way that they feel compelled to adopt them. If I don’t—if I fail to do that—then of course they will reject that change; their ego will reject it and their critical mind will reject it because it hasn’t been convinced that it is necessary or beneficial. Only explanations I make coherently, honestly and convincingly will make that author a more formidable writer.

Perversely, that may also mean there will come a day when they no longer need lil’ ole freelance me, because they’ve landed a lucrative trade deal and an inhouse editor (who may well edit their work entirely differently, but that’s okay, there is more than one way to edit a novel effectively). Dave Gaughran, I’m watching you!

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Editing, How the pros do it, Indie Publishing

 

My “Chosen” guest blogger: Jolea Minnick-Harrison…

Jolea's book is free at Smashwords for the month of July

My Neverending Blog Tour guest blogger today is mother of two and self-confessed “Manager of Chaos,” Jolea Minnick-Harrison, who is the author of fantasy novel Chosen, the first book in The Guardians of the Word series. I thought I’d throw some questions at her about writing a fantasy series, living with ghosts (yes, things that go bump in the night!), and self-publishing.

Q.1 When did you know you had to write the story of the Kingdom of Cobalt?

I’ve been writing this story since 1988. Before my kids were born, and during their infancy, I had it all in my head and then written in some form or the other. Then I had to stop writing for a bit.

Q.2 Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?

Because The Guardians of the Word series is long and complex, I had to know what was going to happen in book 7 in order to write book 3. As it was, when I did finish the last book, I realized there was another element of the story I hadn’t incorporated, so I ended up writing another book that eventually became the First Chronicle, Chosen. So, a little of both. Stuff happens!

Q.3 Who would you say are other authors in your genre that have inspired you?

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. There are others but they top the list.

Q.4 Who is your favourite character from the novel and why?

Dynan and Dain are near and dear to my heart. They’re funny, and deal with some horrible stuff with humour and a lot of courage.

Q.5 I notice that you’ve included a prologue that features a birth scene. Did you draw from your own experience of motherhood and birth for that scene?

A little bit, yes, but I was screaming my head off, unlike my character, Shalael Telaerin. She kept her cool under duress. Of course, she was a Princess.

Q.6 What made you decide to self-publish and how have you found the experience

Like so many other indies, I got tired of the agent run around. I started to hear the rumblings about Indie publishing last March, and thought, why not? It’s been fun and challenging and depressing and exhilarating, all at once.

Q.7 Did you work with an editor and formatter?

Yes, but not enough, especially the editing part. I keep finding typos, so I’m correcting them. I used a professional formatter, who I keep paying for the do-overs. He loves me!

Q.8 I notice that your author bio mentions you live in a 200-year-old house that might be haunted, and I also notice that your character Dynan has to find a 1000-year-old spirit. Do you have any plans to write a ghost story in the future?

I’ve grown up believing in ghosts, so that has influenced my writing. Yes, I do plan to write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Some people think I should call the Ghost Hunters, but no. We’re at peace with the spirits who dwell here.

Q9. What is the one thing you hope readers take away with them after reading Chosen?

I sometimes think people give up on themselves too easily. My characters persevere through terrible odds, they don’t give up, and mostly come out okay at the other end. Hopefully, that’s something people will take to heart — without having to face an evil monster!

I agree with Jolea about giving up to easily. Indie publishing is a long, hard slog and requires a lot of dedication, and I know Jolea is in it for the long haul. Stop by her blog and check our her work on  Amazon  or you can get  copy free until the end of July here: Smashwords Summer Sale.

Follow Jolea on Facebook: Jolea M. Harrison

Follow Jolea on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JoleaB

Follow Jolea’s blog: http://jm-harrison.com/

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Indie Publishing

 

And that’s why it’s called fiction

Grab yourself a copy please. Just .99c to help me feed my child!

Yesterday I took another tentative step in the direction of e-book self-publishing and put a collection of two short stories out there into the ether. At present, they’re only on Smashwords and you can check the collection out here. My intention is to put them up on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing too.

One of these stories, the eponymous Cage Life, has been published before under the title Still Life by [untitled] magazine here in Australia. When it was released, published in print in a slim volume with a garish illustrated cover, I passed copies around to several people to inspire them to admire me (it didn’t work!) although several lovely people even coughed up for a copy.

The story is written in first person from the point-of-view of a young wife and mother and, without giving too much away, starts off charting her carefree, drug-taking university years and spirals into tragedy. My intention was to explore the gamut of a woman’s feelings about liberation and love. How often women feel trapped by their own choices, how often we overlook the signs of love and mistake them for something else, and often we inadvertently fail to prioritise the most important things in life, even while simultaneously trying to put everyone and everything else above ourselves. But when the book came out, so many times the reaction from those who don’t know me well—or well enough to realise that I am begrudgingly unmarried (yes, I know! Talk to my hesitant loving partner and baby daddy folks) and my daughter is just 15 weeks old despite the story being written more than two years ago now—is, “It’s so sad. It’s not based on real life is it?”

My answer is, that it is fiction. I made it up. As a writer I am an incurable liar and I make shit up all the time. It’s what I do. So while it is entirely fictitious, it is, of course, based on real life. The events that take place in my character’s life are in part based on some of the experiences I have had. “The Cow” couch in the story, for instance, really did exist. Some of my best ideas were formed perching on its “furry flanks.” But now I get my inspiration the old-fashioned way (read: wine, or insomnia). I did, at some point, have an ex who was a lawyer and I did live in the “Dolls House.”

Having said that, the “crux” of the story, the tragedy that unfolds, thankfully never happened to me or to anyone I know and love, although such tragedies happen to families around the world every day. I suppose the story is a cautionary tale of just how easy it is to lose sight of the important things for just a few seconds in the midst of a busy life. Sometimes I need to remember that. Sometimes we all do. But hopefully it is a lesson none of us ever have to learn in such a painful and pointless way.

As for the second story … well I hope no one ever mistakes me for an 80-year-old!

 

 

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