Monday, 30 September 2013

Which fictional character would you like to be?

When I was a very small child I was in love with Superman.  I wanted to marry him.  I have always been fascinated by superheroes and their abilities to fight injustice.

Being a shy, reserved, bookish child and teenager, I wasn’t exactly superhero material and I wouldn’t have fared well in a fight.  However, having said that, I remember several occasions when friends were being bullied and instead of running, something inside me snapped and some primitive instinct took over and I attacked on their behalf.  Not quite the Incredible Hulk, but I understand where that comes from.  I still get angry when I witness bullying, whether that takes the form of selfish aggressive drivers or multinational corporations squeezing their small business suppliers to the point of bankruptcy.  Bullying can take many forms. 

I was in my mid-forties when I first encountered Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I fell in love with the character.  I wanted to be her – to have her looks, her style, her youth, her friends, and – most of all – her super abilities to kick ass!

The show itself combined so many of the elements I loved - great characters, fantastic dialogue (which really influenced my writing style at the time) and vampires!   I looked forward every week to a new episode, and when it was on, everything else got ignored, including the phone.  For that hour, I could immerse myself in fantasy and wish fulfilment.

I did manage to get myself a Buffy sweatshirt hoodie from ebay and wore it when I was teaching, to the amusement of my students.  But that was the nearest I came to being Buffy.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Author Millionaire Boot Camp - kickstart your marketing!

If any more writer friends fancy joining me, I’m off to The Millionaire Bootcamp for Authors, from 1st to 3rd November in London. My author marketing needs a good kick up the behind so hoping this will help me!

From the website: The MILLIONAIRE BOOTCAMP FOR AUTHORS, is happening in London from 1st-3rd November.
The speakers will show you how to:
* Make £1 million+ sales from your book or e-books. 
* Earn $20,000 per month with Kindle books.
* Quickly and easily achieve international bestseller status.
* Get your book into high street stores like WH Smith.
* And much more... 
Okay, so it sounds too good to be true, but for only £37 I'm willing to gamble, because I'm always keen to learn new skills, meet fellow writers and industry professionals, and I'm always up for new ideas!   And it looks like fun!

Click here to get your earlybird ticket for just £37:

Check out the website for more info about the speakers.

Related posts:

We are stories: narrative and the grieving process

photo by Roger Hyland

I've just written a piece for the art ezine Creatabot which starts like this:

The concept of stories, storytelling and narrative fascinates me and is a constant source of discovery.  I’ve also explored the idea of writing as therapy for depression and grief.  In the search to understand my personal grieving process I have explored fiction and non-fiction, and recently read How we Grieve: Relearning the world by Thomas Attig (OUP, 1996) which suggests a way of thinking that I had not previously considered and which makes perfect sense – especially if you are a writer. In discussing how we relearn our relationships with the loved ones we have lost, the author suggests...(click on link to read post)

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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Self-promotion, the ego and the creative

A while back, I listened to author Edna O’Brien on the radio, talking about the intense concentration needed to write, especially memoir, and how social media dilutes our focus and is so egotistical.

I agree about writing.  I agree that social media can be used as a tool for the ego. And I agree that it can definitely dilute our focus as writers. 

However, this got me thinking about writers promoting themselves.  When you are pursuing the indie route,  unless you pay someone else to do it for you, you have to promote yourself.  How is that different to a publisher doing your marketing and PR?  And if a third party is doing it on your behalf, they are still telling the world how great you are. So is it okay for someone else to big you up, but not okay for you to express this?  Perhaps it’s a symptom of our weird British modesty - a fear of blowing our own trumpet?  That it is somehow wrong to believe you are good, let alone voice that self-confidence? 

An indie writer is a business.  You have to promote a business to survive and no-one seems to object to this but again when it comes to a creative, somehow different standards apply.  How else are we supposed to do it?  Are we supposed to starve in garrets while we sit back and wait to be recognised and lifted from obscurity to the realms of fame?  The internet has provided us with unparalleled opportunities to bypass this old hierarchical system.   It doesn’t mean it’s easy (it’s very tough indeed!) but it does mean we don’t have to wait for approval; we can put ourselves and our work “out there” and wait for the recipients, be they readers, listeners, etc. to respond directly without the barrier of a gatekeeper. 

So why do we drown in pools of false modesty?  Maybe secretly we don’t really think we are worth it (sorry, L’Oreal).  Maybe, deep down, we just want to be “rescued” by a publisher in shining armour…….

The further mysteries of author discoverability, Amazon keywords and other stuff

Just updated my keywords.  Again.  I’d tried to be clever, bunching mine together as phrases, then read that you are recommended by KDP to use single words, which maximises chances of readers finding you.  Words that communicate the following:

Setting  - eg, stables
Character – types and roles – eg, single mum, strong female lead
Plot themes – eg, coming of age, forgiveness, redemption
Story tone – eg, feel-good, emotional, dystopian

So I set to work once more, thinking about themes such as loss, guilt, and secrets that pervade my stories.  I also hadn’t realised the need to use the actual word “preteen” in the keywords to get the books listed under the 8-12 category for search purposes. 

I’ve been so busy editing and writing that I’ve not spent a lot of time on marketing and promo.  Or blogging.  Sigh.  So hard to strike a balance.  I have 2 more horse titles I wanted to bring out before the end of September (more likely October now), plus a further title end of November (horse sci-fi!) and, hopefully, a completely new story end Dec/mid Jan. Phew!  I’m enjoying writing again and get excited about all the projects ; I'm in danger of getting severe writers bum, with my limbs stiffening and head buzzing.  Friends are neglected, yoga’s gone out of the window, I forget to eat, and so many things are being put on hold until I achieve these targets.  Maybe not so healthy?

The new Gemma series is selling steadily, so I’m quite pleased with that, and Joyrider is picking up slowly.  I’m so impatient – they’ve only been out a few weeks – but I really do need to devote some serious time to marketing, which I’ve totally neglected. 

There’ll be a sneak preview of the next two covers shortly, and I’m thrilled to be working with a wonderful illustrator who is producing the image for my November release.  (More on this soon).
Now, did I actually drink that mug of coffee I made over an hour ago?  And have I left the porridge in the microwave?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Horselovers! Fab new book by Lauren Woodard!

Earlier in the year, I was delighted to publish a guest post from the wonderful Lauren Woodard - horse lover, writer, teacher, trainer and owner of Exceptional Horsemanship 

Lauren's new book is now out and I'm recommending it to horse lovers.  

A witty approach to an issue that every horse owner suffers from-when the horse says, "I ain't goin'!" Not your run of the mill general horsemanship book, Lauren asks that you consider the concepts involved in why these things happen and explore a different leadership and influence concept that will improve your horsemanship exponentially. Fun and funny while learning is second on her list of how-to-do's, first being the horse's respect, justness and safety and whether it results in NICELY moving both the horse's and person's training along. It's as if Lauren is talking specifically to you, and if you asked her, she'd say, "Yes, I am! So, lets get rolling."

Click to buy.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Are you a book snob?

In January I posted a blog piece entitled Literary Fiction V Genre Fiction which stimulated lively discussion in various book groups online, so I suspect it is a topic of interest to many writers and readers. 
There's also an interesting post on literary versus genre fiction over at Jane Friedman:

So when I came across this post by Matt Haig at the Booktrust, I wanted to share it. Called 30 things to tell a book snob, this is a contentious subject, judging by all the comments on his blog post. What do you think?

Along the same lines, I have just read the blurb for the University of Kent’s Creative Writing Centre and it made me growl!  For example:

“You won’t write mass-market thrillers or children’s fiction on our programmes.”  
Why not?  What’s wrong with children’s fiction?   Or thrillers?  Are they not worthy of study or creation?   

And,  “We don’t want our students to write inside genre and formula but outside, where real art is found.”  Really?  And a definition of real art? 

Click below to get annoyed.

Rant over........for now......

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

New e-book - Joyrider! FREE for 2 Days!

My NEW e-book Joyrider is FREE to download TODAY and TOMORROW!!

About Joyrider by Jane Ayres

Fourteen year old Linzi has it all. Or so it seems. She's bright, pretty, popular, lives in a glamorous clifftop apartment and has her own perfect horse - a stunning copper chestnut gelding called Ambrose. But appearances can be very deceptive....

On the other side of the sleepy seaside town, teenager Bex lives in a tiny flat with her widowed mum above the cafĂ© they both run. She's prickly, moody, and a loner, trying to escape from her tragic past. She doesn't want friends - especially not girls like Linzi. 

Linzi suspects her rival, Sheldon, who resents her for beating him to a place in the jumping team, is the mystery joyrider - someone who takes other peoples horses at night and rides them - and she is furious when her beloved Ambrose is targeted. However, afterwards, Ambrose seems different, and Linzi is baffled to discover that his behaviour is much better than before. Can the joyrider have a magic touch? 

She determines to solve the mystery and discover the true identity - and motives - of the joyrider. But in the process she soon finds herself - and Bex - in terrible danger. 

This exciting novella is a fast paced read for children, pre-teens, teenagers and young adults.

Available in all Amazon territories. 

Amazon links:

Monday, 16 September 2013

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Writing projects, cats and unwritten stories

Steve, one of the two adorable feline inspirations for Coming Home

I'm working on several projects right now, one of which is a book trailer for Coming Home.  I love working with a designer and am now adding a composer to the mix.  It is so exciting to see your ideas realised (and refined!) by other creatives.

I also came across a stack of notes for unwritten books that I plan to go through later, to see if there is anything worth developing.  And I definitely plan to write a sequel to Beware of the Horse (thank you so much, wonderful Vikki Thompson from The View Outside, who suggested the idea - you should be a writing mentor, Vikki!).

So I have plenty to be getting on with.......

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Saying it Louder

I have 5 copies left of a popular poetry and story collection (now out of print) that I edited called, Saying it Louder;  diverse and exciting poetry and short stories from 61 new writers, which includes my poem "Louder". 

Reader comments include:

“I didn’t think I was into poetry books but this one is very different.”

“This is a highly enjoyable and accessible read…I already have at least 6 favourites.”

 “It looks great, well laid out and I’ve really enjoyed reading it.”

“I was most impressed – and the cover design is really excellent.”

“A breath of fresh air.”

Cost is £5 (retail price was £7.99) and payment is by Paypal.  Postage and packing is £2.60 per book, but will be combined for multiple copies. If you wish to make a purchase, place contact me at workingwords50(at)gmail dot com for information on how to order.  

A great early Xmas present!!!