Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Formatting, Proofreading and Editing

As an indie author I'm not loaded with cash. I can't afford these vast fees charged by people who are constantly approaching me trying to get me to buy into their services for this and that, the list would be endless if you went along with everything, besides which, firstly I object to unsolicited emails and DMs, secondly I'm a bit precious when it comes to my work. I don't want somebody else tampering with it, telling me what would sound better this way or that. I write it the way I want it to be written. I use which words I choose. I don't want or need someone who thinks they know better changing the premise of my stories. I also like to be the one to decide which services I want to use if any, not have them shoved down my throat, that puts me right off and I wouldn't use that person on principle for their temerity at approaching me. Plus if they think they know better why aren't they writing the book?!

Added to all of this there seem to be so many people who set themselves up as editors or proofreaders and I wonder how many have any form of qualification to do so? I have read books which have been proofread and still found errors and quite frankly I can do a better job myself. I don't agree with the theory that fresh eyes will spot mistakes that I as the author will miss because I know what's coming. I couldn't proofread someone else's work as well as I can read my own because I don't necessarily know how they want something to sound and therefore whilst taking that into account an error might escape me so I'd never claim to be a proofreader. However, as I know my own work and have gained experience my errors jump out at me in my edits. I hold my hands up and admit to errors in my earlier books and due to my health condition it would be too much of a mammoth task to go back and re edit them all but with experience has come a better editing technique which I'm happy with and seems to have worked in my more recent books. I'd be furious if I'd paid for the services of an editor or proofreader and still found errors. Having said that it is extremely difficult to find every last tiny typo and if I'm reading someone else's book and the content is good it doesn't detract from the story for me.

That brings me onto formatting. This is one thing that completely baffles me. I've tried every which way and nothing comes out right. I don't like the computer to beat me but I'm not particularly technically minded and I was despairing of ever having that perfect ebook until I came across The Book Khaleesi.

Again I'm not in the position to shell out silly amounts of money and their fee for formatting is very reasonable so I thought I'd give them a try with Whisper to Me.

I'm so glad I did. Eeva, @eevalancaster  Twitter, and her team have made a wonderful job of it and I've since had Over A Spitfire done too.
My plan is to work my way through my books until they are all done, something I wouldn't and couldn't have done with someone charging a large fee.
The Book Khaleesi do a fabulous job for a great price. I can't speak highly enough of them and would definitely recommend them. They do offer other services which I feel sure will be of the same high standard so if I ever decide on anything else they would be my first choice although for my covers I use The Cover Collection, @DebbieTCC Twitter, and am really happy with them.
As with anything in life we are always learning and it has taken me a long time to get to this stage where I'm happy with the services I use. Now, I'd better go back and edit this piece, don't want it to be full of typos!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Inspirations and Dedications

A few months ago I wrote about my slumbering inspiration. Well happily it woke up and came out to play and I thoroughly enjoyed completing Whisper To Me and getting to know my characters, so much so that I couldn't bear to leave them so they'll be coming with me into my next novel.
That brings me onto the inspiration for the story. Whisper To Me is the story of a jealous, vengeful ghost who is not at all happy that her beloved husband has replaced her with a slovenly, unhygienic new wife after her death.
The idea came from my mum's words to my dad, 'If I died you wouldn't remarry would you?'
I never heard her say them it was my dad who told me but none of us like to think about death or parting and I think his reply was something blunt like, 'Don't be bloody stupid.'
Well she did die young, aged 43 from breast cancer when I was 12. No-one else ever matched up to her in Dad's eyes but he was lonely and ten years later remarried. My mum's spirit wouldn't have been pleased. The new wife was a stranger to cleanliness where my mum had been clean almost to a fault. As the saying turning in their grave goes she must have been incredibly restless in hers to observe the state of her home that she'd taken such a pride in and always kept so well fall into the hands of this woman and become a stinking midden. Wife two brought along with her an unhousetrained toy poodle who weed everywhere and the house stank.
This scenario had played in my mind over the years and so Theo, Letitia and Sheena were born for Whisper To Me. They aren't my parents and stepmother but are just in the same situation. The true stories are in my two memoirs Shadow Across the Sun and Better or Dead.
Now onto the dedication in the book. Who else could I dedicate it to but my late parents?
Fellow authors what have been your more notable inspirations and how do you choose who you'll dedicate each particular book to? It will probably be easier to reply on Twitter and Facebook than on the blog.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Free Promotions? Or Not?

Free promotions. Do they bear fruit? It's so long since I ran one I can't remember so I thought I'd give it another whirl.  I've recently revised Angel Breaths and A Lapse of Sanity to publish with Smashwords and Draft2Digital when my KDP Select enrollment expires so time to give them a little outing methinks.

Angel Breaths was inspired by a news item on abortion laws that asked the question, 'At what point does a baby have a soul?' It set me thinking. Was it as soon as the two cells met and began to divide? If so how would it feel about being rejected or miscarried?
Angel Breaths is narrated by Angelique, the spirit of a miscarried child as she watches over the earthly family she can never be a part of. She also watches over her soulmate Louis as he treads his earthly life, connecting to him on a spiritual level.
A spin off from this is my award winning short story Into The Arms of Angels which was runner up out of 900 entries in our local newspaper The Sentinel's Too Write competition in 2017. It can be found in my short story collection Just A Moment, priced at just 99p

Angel Breaths is free from 24th-28th August 2018 so enjoy a read on me. A Lapse of Sanity to follow shortly.
If you do enjoy it I'd be very grateful for a review please.
Many thanks.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Smashwords and Permafree - new territory

Sales have been dire these last few weeks so after reading an article about an author's success I decided I'd give myself a shake and do something about it instead of wallowing in lethargy.
I googled 'increase your sales' and Permafree came up, which led on to Smashwords. I've seen them both before in other people's posts and tweets but thought I couldn't sell with them because I had exclusivity with Amazon. Well as I have several titles I decided I'd try a couple and see which sales platform was best.
I contacted Amazon first to be sure I wasn't breaching any rules and was pleased that I could still sell the books with them but I had to unenroll from KDP Select as this was the exclusivity clause, so here goes, voyaging into the unchartered territory of Smashwords and possibly Permafree.
Will it bear fruit? I'll have to wait and see. Has anyone else used them? Experiences please in either the blog comments or Facebook/Twitter. Also your sales techniques would be helpful. Many thanks.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Pen and Paper or Computer?

We all have our own writing techniques and preferences. What works for one of us doesn't for another. What is most important is getting those creative juices flowing, bringing the words out of our heads and ultimately into our stories.
It has to be pen and paper for me. Even writing this blog it has to be pen and paper first. I can't think creatively on the computer, that is for tidying it all up. Besides, I like the pen and paper part of it, that's the bit I enjoy most, then the tidying up.
I'm not a disciplined writer. I don't set aside so many hours a day to write, it has to be when I get the burn. I'm the sort of person who likes everything done yesterday so novel writing which takes months and years is a contradiction to my nature. Healthwise there are many days when I don't have the energy to think, much less pick up a pen. Other days I know I have a book on the go, know where I'm going with it, have notes guiding me into the next chapter but I just can't rouse myself to pick up the pen and A4 pad - and my scribings! As you can see I could never get someone else to type them up for me, too many crossings out, words changed, sentences added or removed, plus as I type it up something might sound better and I do enjoy that part too, gathering it together. The only book I wrote straight onto the computer was the latter part of my second memoir Better or Dead and I wrote it from notes that I'd made.
So that's my writing routine, pen and paper for the creative flow, read through and make adjustments several times until I'm happy with it, only then does it go onto the computer, and even then I make minor adjustments.
What's your routine? I'd love to hear either in blog comments or Facebook/Twitter, whichever's easier.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Will and Ava - Spitfire Love

Wilhelmina Schmidt - or Will as she preferred to be called - had never been a girl's girl. She'd never liked girl's toys, boy's were much more exciting, cars and aeroplanes. The pretty dresses her mother dressed her in were always dirty and torn from playing boy's games. As she grew she had no burning desire to wear make up and only wore the minimum to conform. Sexually she'd been drawn neither to boys nor girls but had never bothered to wonder why. Then she met Ava.
Forbidden wartime love Spitfire
Ava Greatbach by contrast was a girl's girl. Had loved her dolls as a child, loved her make up as she grew and especially loved pretty cotton summer dresses. She'd also had boyfriends. Then she met Will.
They were drawn together as if by a magnetic silken thread. It wouldn't have mattered what gender they were, their souls called to one another. The power that drew them was stronger than they were - but it was wartime. Lives were destroyed. Love was torn apart.
Spitfire II for blog

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


Inspiration. That force vital to an author. Where does it come from? Mine has curled up and died of late but whilst it slumbers I've been thinking of its past appearances. 
I always loved writing stories at school. Composition it was called back in the day. My English teachers always wrote on my reports that I had a vivid imagination. I always thought somewhere in the recesses of my mind that I'd write a book when I got older.
Then my mother died.
That kindled my inspiration. I felt I must write about it but not at that point, it was too raw. Life took over and inspiration once more receded. 
Then I became ill.
That meant many hours alone when my sons were at school. Newly divorced the loneliness drove me crazy so I relived my childhood through my pen, the good times and the bad. I bought a typewriter - had no idea what to do with a computer, that came much later after the many rejections of my first attempt at the book that I'd intended to write for so long.
Memoirs 2
I joined a creative writing class. I learned to write properly, to create characters, write fiction as well as memoir and inspiration danced on fairy light footsteps. Stories came to me, my characters held conversations in my head, raced through my dreams at night, woke me at dawn with dreams of their own. For a time I couldn't write quickly enough: the only thing holding me back was my health, many days I didn't - still don't - have the energy to think.

Now my inspiration is suffering from its own lack of energy. It occasionally comes out to play when I'm in the bath (I'm Pisces, a water sign, there must be a connection.) It rises with the steam and the fragrance of the foam bath, those conversations between characters, the settings they walk through.
My current work in progress has enjoyed scenes at The Chelsea Flower Show and has sent its characters home with a promise but here the author sits penning this blog instead of getting on with the story. I'll blame it on the heat of the wonderful summer of 2018 drying my inspiration up with the parched and cracked earth. Who'd have thought we'd be praying for rain in the UK where it never usually seems to stop, but perhaps that's what my inspiration needs, a good downpour.