Gratitude And The Self-Publisher

It’s a funny thing, this self-publishing business. You start out with reasonably realistic expectations–‘I’ll probably only sell a book per month at first’, and ‘It’ll take a long time to build that email list’–and you put your head down and work at the thing.

You sell your book-per-month, and you feel grateful. You’re excited that there’s someone out there every month who wants to read your book. Then it’s four books a month. After that, it’s four books per week. At first you feel delighted: your sales are growing! But the next month, when it’s still only the four books per week, a subtle sense of disappointment begins to creep in. You begin to forget that once you were happy with a book per month.

Soon you’re averaging a sale per day. Giddy excitement! Life has never seemed so good! You may not be one of the best sellers out there–or even one of the best Indie sellers–but you’re not doing too bad for yourself. And your sales are still growing, albiet slowly. Maybe you have a promotion or two. Suddenly there are spikes of twenty to one hundred sales over a day or two, and it feels great! Then you get back to the humdrum sale-per-day after the promotion ends, and suddenly it feels a bit flat…

What’s the problem here? There is no problem. Your sales are fine. Your career is fine. It’s still growing, and it’s still miles ahead of the reasonable expectations you had when you started this thing. And yet, that subtle sense of disappointment still tends to creep in when you’re not watching out for it. You have to remind yourself that a sale-and-a-bit per day is miles ahead of where you reasonably expected to be a few months ago. There are still many miles to go and many readers to reach before you find your audience.

What does this have to do with you, you may be asking? (Apart from my use of the 2nd person for the blog post, that is). To you I reply: Precisely nothing. It’s more of a reminder to myself. But for all the other indie authors out there who sometimes feel glum and disappointed at the amount of books they’re selling (or not selling, as the case may be), try looking back to your beginning as an author.  I bet you’re doing better now than you were then. And you’ve probably done the same thing I have: you’ve become so used to a higher rate of sales that you’ve ceased to be grateful for what you’ve got. Take a moment to remember what it was like when you were starting out. It helps to put things in perspective.

And maybe don’t check your sales every day. That’ll help, too.

What A Glorious Feeling!

There’s a really horrible part of writing. It’s that part, about halfway through–or even 3/4 of the way through, or right at the end–when you’re convinced that everything you write is utter drivel and it feels like there’s no saving it. The plot is hopelessly holey, the dialogue is trite and stiff, and the surrounding prose is as uninspired at a piece of toast.

We all get it. Well. get it, and I’d hate to think I’m alone in my funk, misery–as they say–loving company. For me, this time, it hit like a sledgehammer right at the end of FIRE IN THE BLOOD. I didn’t even want to edit it. TWELVE DAYS OF FAERY was so quick and easy to write, and it felt like FITB was one drag after another–problems with characters, problems with plot-holes, etc. Most of ’em I fixed as I went, but it left me feeling raw and uncertain about the whole novella. Especially since I preset a publication date on FITB before it was finished (December 25th, in case you’re wondering).

That was then.

Now?

This is me now:

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What makes the difference, you ask?

Well, mostly I think it’s mental. As in, I’m mental, inclined to worry, and unnecessarily complicate things by obsessing over them. Also, a little while ago I finished first edits of FITB (with two quicker rounds to go). Not only did I fix the remaining, tiny (much tinier than I remembered) plot-holes, but I found that the whole thing was about twenty times better than I remembered it being. The dialogue was everything I wanted it to be, the story progressed so much more smoothly than I remembered, and it was all in all a much better novella than I thought it was. So I polished it some more and then went and watched The Marriage Of Figaro on Youtube.

All that wasted worry! I could have spent that on something else!

Final Edits for ‘Spindle’

Last night the hubby was watching Caprica. You may be wondering what that has to do with Spindle – or last edits, if it comes to that. What it has to do with both is precisely this: I can’t stand Caprica, or for that matter, Battlestar Galactica. (I’ll have to try the original series- I hated the new but love the old V). It’s nasty, grotty, by far too soapy for my taste, and I don’t think there’s a single character I like. As far as I’m concerned, the Cylons can eliminate the lot of ’em.

So while hubby was watching Caprica, I put on my big, white noise-blocking earphones and searched Youtube for Stuff. I found Lindsey Stirling, which I binged on for a while as I typed away madly at the last few thousand words of Spindle. Then I changed to Evanescence for a while and continued to type away madly. It was probably the easiest, most profitable night’s writing that I’ve done in quite some time. Honestly, the hardest bit was not looking at the music videos as they played (Lindsey Stirling in particular has such lovely, visceral music videos – see Roundtable Rival for my favourite).

I did cheat a few times, skipping ahead to other scenes when I got stuck with the one I was writing, but the writing got done. Which means I’ll be able to send Spindle off to beta readers at the end of the week. Hoots! It also means that I’ll have a two week break from the MS while I go on with Other Things and prepare for Final Edits. Fortunately I do a lot of editing as I go, so only the last third of Spindle will need a second and third round of edits (hopefully). That and the feedback from my beta readers should keep me busy for the next month after my break.

So in celebration of Spindle reaching Final Edit stage, I have another small excerpt for you all! Enjoy, and don’t forget to preorder Spindle.

* * *

                Poly woke the next morning to uncomfortable heat and a distinct feeling of claustrophobia. To add to her discomfort there was a tiny, sharp elbow digging into her neck, which suggested that Onepiece had turned boy some time after he curled up on her pillow but hadn’t moved from the pillow. One of his legs was dangling over the side of the bed, but the other had managed to work its way under the covers. The rest of him was wrapped snugly in what seemed to be . . . hair.

“Good grief!” groaned Poly, giving up the attempt to lift her head from the pillow after one painful effort.

“Oh, you are awake,” said Luck, making her squeak in surprise. He was stretched out at the foot of her bed with an open book in one hand, his boots only just off the quilted blanket; and that, thought Poly crossly, must be why she couldn’t move her legs. “I wouldn’t try that again if I were you: it’s lashed underneath the boards.”

“Yes, I thought it might be. What do I do?”

“Lie very still, I suppose. Poly, the curse is being sneaky again, but I think you might have been sneakier.”

Onepiece stirred and murmured: “Tosh,” but that was more likely to be because it was his favourite word than because he’d understood Luck. Poly was left wondering if she agreed with the sentiment.

“I knew there was something niggling away in the back of my mind,” continued Luck, disregarding Onepiece’s sleepy mutterings. “Your hair is too helpful: it’s keeping the curse at bay by growing. Even if you’d pumped all your magic into it, it shouldn’t be that clever.”

“How does growing keep the curse at bay?” asked Poly. She’d given up trying to explain yet again to Luck that she didn’t have magic, hadn’t had magic, wouldn’t ever have magic. His reiteration was insidious enough that Poly thought she might just come to believe him, in the end.

* * *

That’s it from me! What have you guys been up to this week? And what is your writing music of choice?

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All About Wolfskin

Just a quick note to let you all know that Wolfskin is Finished, Done, Kaputt, Uploaded, etc, etc. It will be available May 1st, and if any of you out there on the interwebs are interested in getting your hot little hands on a review copy of Wolfskin, send me a note via the comments, the Contact tab, or email (gingellwrites AT gmail.com). Reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Blogs, and Kobo are very greatly appreciated 🙂

Wolfskin will be going on blog tour from July 6th, so reviews are welcome any time from May 1st through to July 26th. Later is fine, too, but I’d love to co-ordinate everything together if possible. If you’re interested in having me as a guest on your blog during this time (guest post, interview, excerpt, etc) feel free to contact me by the above methods.

I will also be setting up a Goodreads Giveaway mid-May.

See below for a blurb of Wolfskin, and if you’d like to check out an excerpt, click on the Excerpts tab.

Have a lovely week, all!

“If you want adventure, you have to march right up to it and kick it in the shins . . .”

At fourteen, barefoot and running wild, Rose is delighted to be apprenticed to Akiva, the witch of the forest.  She thinks it will be all enchantment and excitement, and not so much fuss about baths.  The reality is much more sober and practical- that is, until she meets a mysterious wolf in the forest and is tricked into stepping off the path . . .

In young, naive Rose, Bastian sees a way of escape.  Cursed to remain in the shape of a wolf after running afoul of a powerful enchantress, he has lived many decades under a spell, and now he is both desperate and ruthless.  But by breaking part of Bastian’s curse, Rose has caught the attention of Cassandra, the enchantress who cursed him: and Cassandra is by no means ready to forgive and forget.

Meanwhile, wardens have been disappearing from the forest, one by one.  Rose is certain that Cassandra is behind the disappearances, but can she and Bastian get to the bottom of the matter before Akiva disappears as well?  And are Bastian’s motives entirely to be trusted?

Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest.

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Busy, Busy, Busy

It’s been a busy week. And now that I’ve written the word ‘busy’ five times, it’s looking really weird to me. Maybe I need a nap.

But I digress.

It’s been a busy week. My proofs for Wolfskin came in (finally!) but since they’re late arriving I have only a week and a half to check and correct. So there’s that. Then there’s the last 5000-odd words of Spindle that need to be done by next week if I want to keep on target with that particular deadline. And then there’s Memento Mori (the second volume in the Time-Traveller’s Best Friend series). I’ve only just begun it, and though I know roughly what the story arc for the collection will be, and have a few titles and ideas for a few of the stories, I still need to write the thing. By August at the latest.

With all these deadlines, you’d think I’d be madly at work on one or all of them. No such thing. I also got a new idea for a Short Thing for Weekly Fiction’s Open Call For Submissions. Naturally, I started work on that, with a little bit of editing and proof-reading around the edges. Fortunately, Wolfskin is proving much less complicated than Masque was. I seem to have caught most of the errors and inconsistencies and missed words before this point (does that mean I’ve advanced a level? New Power! Error-Free Gained!) and it’s really mostly a matter of a tiny change here and there.

Added to all the above is a busier-than-usual week at work, coupled with an annoying surge of my favourite companion, Meniere’s Disease.

I may just quietly go mad for a while. Don’t mind me. It’s a self-chosen madness after all.

What about you guys? Who else has a murder of deadlines? (Well, what is the group word for many deadlines, anyway?) And are you actually working on them?

All The Lovely Stuff

When I first decided that I was going to go with self-publishing rather than traditional publishing, there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a long, hard slog. I knew that I’d have to work very hard for potentially very little reward, and that success – if it came – would most likely come slowly.

I was prepared for the exasperatingly finnicky adjustments and bug fixes of preparing different formats for different platforms. I was prepared for the necessity of promoting myself (not an easy thing for an introvert). I was even prepared for the arduous gauntlet of GST, ABNs, EINs, ITINs, and every other taxation-related acronym. I knew I’d have to do a fair bit of leg work to get my books into the local bookstores, and that this would involve a lot of stammering, ums, and daft half-sentences that would lead the most patient store owner to wonder how an idiot ever managed to publish a book.

I knew, in fact, that there was a very good possibility that I would publish to very little reception, and that I might never write to an audience of more than three or four people (not counting mum and sis). I figured I could live with that, because let’s face it, I write because I love writing. Getting paid for it would be a plus, but it’s not the reason I write. Becoming famous would be awesome, but it’s not the reason I write.

I was pretty well prepared for most of what I’ve had to do. A few things have taken me by surprise: been harder or easier to do than I expected, etc. But I find that I neglected to think of one thing.

It didn’t actually occur to me that someone, having loved what I wrote, would write, email, tweet, or contact me in some way, to tell me how much they’d loved it. It seems a bit stupid of me not to have thought of it. But the first email I received, telling me that the writer loved Masque and that they were waiting eagerly for my next book, was a complete surprise. The second left me stunned and a little dizzy, and inclined to stare into the middle distance with a fatuous beam on my face. Then there were the lovely tweets, comments, and emails that followed.

So to everyone who has contacted me in some way to tell me how much they enjoyed my book/story/excerpt, etc: Thank you! You’re part of The Lovely Stuff about being an author. When you tell me that Thing you particularly enjoyed about my book, it delights me to know that someone noticed that Thing. Odds are, I worked very hard to make it right.

It can sometimes feel like I’m shouting into an immense void, and the occasional human touch from across the internet is very much appreciated. Thank you for reaching out and becoming a part of my life.

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2

Let The Games Begin! (Aka, Masque Is On Tour, And So Am I)

Let the games begin! The book blog tour for Masque has kicked off at The Indy Book Fairy, where you can read an excerpt and enter to win a paperback copy of Masque. Come on along and say Hi!

Further stops will be:

15th- I Heart Reading (Starter Party)

17th- Nat’s Book Nook (Promo Post)

18th- Books, Books, and More Books (Promo + Excerpt)

20th- Howling Turtle (Promo Post)

22nd- Mystical Books (Guest Post)

24th-100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

25th- Tea Talks (Promo Post)

26th- Jooniel Obsesses Over Stories (Book Review)

28th- Literary Musings (Book Excerpt)

28th- Dreams Come True Through Reading (Promo + Excerpt)

29th- C.J. Anaya’s Blog (Book Review and Character Interview)

So follow along with me as I traipse merrily across the blogosphere: and don’t forget to enter into the rafflecopter draw to win a paperback copy of Masque!

(I’ll even sign it for you. Hmm, draw or put-off . . . ?)

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Last Edits And Other Means Of Torture

There’s this feeling you get after finishing a story. It’s something like: “Yes! I’m done now! It’s finished!”

It’s completely wrong. Your brain is lying to you because it knows just how much work there is still to go. In comparison to what you’ve still got to do, writing the MS was the easiest thing in the world.

I’m talking about edits. First edits, second edits, third edits- heck, anywhere from first to fiftieth edits. You painstakingly go over the MS from top to bottom, start to finish; hunting down every wrong word, misplaced comma, unnecessary adverb, missing preposition, and incorrect spelling. You sit back, exhausted from your Herculean efforts, and reward yourself with a cup of earl grey tea and as many biscuits (cookies, for the Americans out there) that you can scoff. Congrats! You’re done.

Except you’re not. There’s still Last Edits to go. (Why, yes, those are the Capital Letters Of Doom).

Let me show you what Last Edits look like.

MS #3MS #2MS #1

Admittedly, these are the most extreme of my Last Edit pages. Some of the pages have no red pen at all, just glorious black and white. Some have a scribbled-out word or two, with notes to remind me about continuity for one thing or another.

I usually leave a MS for at least a few months after edits before I begin Last Edits. It makes me more inclined to notice things I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed otherwise, and if I’ve been working on another MS, it’s the closest thing to a fresh look that’s possible. Last Edits are a chance to get an overview of the whole MS: what the pacing is doing, how the register is behaving as a whole, and if the continuity of well, everything, is smooth and painless.

The problem is, when you sit down to do Last Edits, you can’t turn the line editor off, either. (Well, can’t. Bully for you if you can.) So I end up doing little bits of line edit as I go. It’s excruciatingly painstaking.

And it’s worth every minute. (I can say this because I have less than 30 pages to go on my Last Edits of Wolfskin. When I was halfway through all you’d get from me were growls and snarls.) You may have to replenish your red pen supply by the time you’re finished, though.

Congrats! Your Last Edits are done!

Oh, did I mention the proof copy that’s going to arrive in the mail any day now? Yeah, you’re gonna find a lot more missing words in that one, too.

Enjoy it, won’t you?

Wolfskin Excerpt

Wolfskin is on its final edits and will be published May 1st, 2015! It’s set in the same world as Masque but is a standalone novel with separate characters. I will hopefully be doing a blog tour a month or two after publication, but in the mean-time, here’s a short excerpt for you to get a feel for the book.

Enjoy!

 

When I stepped from the thread to the path leading to Akiva’s front gate, there was a woman between me and it.

She was so beautiful. I’m not sure why I expected her to be otherwise. Her hair was black and glossy, and hung loose to her waist in a sleek, rippling sheet that mingled with royal purple satins and silks that were as sleek as her hair. Her eyes, framed by impossibly long, dusky eyelashes, were of an equally impossible shade of violet. I saw them and my herbs scattered themselves on the path, dropping heedlessly from my nerveless fingers. Those twin violets gleamed with the same darkness I had seen in Bastian’s eyes the first time I met him.  

Horned hedgepigs! I thought, swallowing. It could only be Cassandra.

She looked me up and down with those brilliant, purple eyes while I regretted fervently that I hadn’t been a moment quicker, and then said: “You’re not pretty.”

Her voice was bell-like in consideration; and, like every other part of her, breathtakingly beautiful.

“I know,” I said. Even if I had been as beautiful as Gwendolen, I couldn’t have hoped to compare with Cassandra. I eyed her unblinkingly, wondering why it mattered to her.

“You’re not pretty,” she repeated; a statement, not a question. “I didn’t expect that. He must be desperate.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said, scowling. I was coldly frightened, and that made me angry. Black, tarry magic was stirring around her, creating nasty pockets of corruption in the air that made me feel ill: it was vastly more powerful than anything I had ever seen.

She looked at me contemptuously through the haze. “Beauty is all that matters to him, stupid child. You can only lose.”

“Bastian isn’t here,” said Akiva’s voice suddenly and startlingly. I tore my eyes away from Cassandra’s and saw her, knobbly and infinitely welcome, leaning on a stick behind the enchantress. For a horrible moment it had felt like I was drowning in the brilliant lavender of Cassandra’s eyes.

Akiva hobbled past her and put a hand on my shoulder. I felt a sense of her power, welling up deep inside her, warm and comforting. I think I was still looking up at her with wide eyes when she said quietly: “Go into the house, Rose.”

As I closed the gate with cold fingers, I heard Akiva reiterate: “The wolf isn’t here.”

“I can smell him all over her!” hissed Cassandra.

There was a silence suggesting that Akiva was shrugging; then her old, firm voice said: “I sent him away: he knows what I think about him. Today was goodbye.”

Their voices faded with distance, but as I loitered on the garden path I saw the warm glow of an astonishing and formidable power rising to meet and match Cassandra’s. I recognized it as Akiva’s, hale and hearty, and stronger than I could ever have imagined. After that I hurried to get into the safety of the cottage, feeling the hairs prickle on the back of my neck, because I knew that it was no longer safe for me to be out in the open. Once inside, I plumped myself down in Akiva’s chair, absently staring into the fire and contemplating the extraordinary power I had just witnessed. For the first time in the excitement of my new magical prowess, I felt thoroughly humbled and weak. My own power, puny in comparison to that shown so effortlessly by both Cassandra and Akiva, was pitiful past thinking about. I was suddenly very thankful for Akiva’s protection. In the coldness of the moment, I knew there was no chance that I could ever hope to fight against Cassandra and win.

Wolfskin is available for preorder on Amazon and Kobo, due for release May 1st, 2015.

Fun Stuff Around The House: Chest Of Drawers

I’m coming to the end of my 2 weeks of holidays. It’s been a great time, I’ve been amazingly productive (writing-wise, anyway), and I’ve managed to keep the house (relatively) clean. I’ve gone out, stayed in, read books, written lots; vacuumed, washed-up, polished, dusted, and consumed an immense amount of tea, pinapple lollies and muffins (English muffins, if you’re American and don’t know the right words to stuff 😀 )

Now I’m painting a small chest of drawers. It’s coming along nicely. I have an overabundance of stripy stockings and colourful socks (that’s a lie: a person can never have too many stripy stockings and tights) that were having difficulty squeezing into the drawers of my tiny bedside table. So when I was in the 2nd hand store the other day and saw a diminutive chest of drawers for only forty bucks, I snatched it up. (Not literally: sis and I carried it out. Then there were a couple guys who offered to carry it for us, and since I believe in encouraging chivalry whenever I meet it, we said thank-you nicely and let them do it. They seemed to have more difficulty than we did, but it was nice of ’em, anyways.)

I’m a fan of the ‘distressed’ look furniture, which was just as well, since there were a few chunks taken out. No need to hit this baby with chains and hammers! No, it is a superior piece of furniture that came pre-distressed. All I really needed to complete it were a few sample pots of paint.

I matched up my colours at the Mitre 10 down the road, then brought everything back home and went to work. I sanded her down, took all the knobs off, and took all the drawers out. That’s when I discovered that I am in fact getting old and that my back didn’t appreciate the hour or so I spent half-hunched, sanding away madly.

cod 1cod 4       cod 5

The next day it was time for the first coat of paint. Sanctuary Point (a kind of sage green) went on just right. Two coats made it look just lovely. I’m using it as a base coat so that when I put the Almond Sugar (a kind of eggshell off-white) coats on, I’ll be able to sand through it in places and have a combination of the two. My back still didn’t love the work, but really, biggest challenge at this stage was keeping the flies and dog-hairs out of the paint pot and off my freshly painted work.

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Dido, my mini foxie, was helping out. Her task is to supply all the 'cute' I need.

Dido, my mini foxie, was helping out. Her task is to supply all the ‘cute’ I need.

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Today, I added a coat of Almond Sugar to the main frame and the door knobs. Then I decided it was time for breakfast and promptly gave up for the day. So, my grand project lives to see another day. I’ll post more pics when it’s complete.

And since no glut of pictures is complete without a picture of what I had for breakfast, here you go:

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be settling in for the rest of the holidays with my laptop (the better to write), my cuppa (the better to drink), and my stack of books (just plain better):

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